Editor’s note: This is the part of an ongoing series of articles from communicators who have earned their Accreditation in Public Relations, describing what led them to become accredited and what the accreditation experience was like for them.
In rowing, it’s known as the “moment of swing.” You experience it when all crew members are completely in sync and the boat feels as though it’s traveling farther and faster than anyone thought possible. Achieving that moment is truly special. It’s proof positive that working together allows us to find greater success much sooner than we ever could by ourselves.
The best piece of advice that I could possibly give anyone considering Accreditation is to apply that concept to their journey. Find someone, be it a co-worker, a friend or someone you meet through the online course, that you can share this experience with. You’ll get so much more out of this process if you have a dedicated study partner. Having someone to talk to and rely on will help keep you on track, reduce stress and boost your learning.
I was fortunate enough to go through this process alongside my manager. We’d both spoken about pursuing Accreditation on and off for a couple of years before finally deciding the time was right. We both made the commitment to see the process through, set a date and developed a study plan. We became study partners and also accountability partners, each encouraging and supporting the other to remain on track despite the generally hectic pace of our professional and personal lives.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you won’t have to put the work in. The APR is a challenging process, and all the touchstone moments of the journey are done solo. You answer the questionnaire, go through the Readiness Review and take the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations, all on your own. However, going through this process in a vacuum, without someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of, is not ideal. I found that I had a tendency to over-think things and make them more complicated than need be. Being able to work with my study partner helped break me of that mindset. By working through a particular problem or scenario, we were able to reinforce the material covered and also learned to trust in our own knowledge and instincts.
You don’t need to limit your circle to just one or two people. In fact, the more colleagues and mentors you connect with will help increase your chances of success. Their experiences and advice will certainly be a benefit to you on your journey. But I highly recommend finding at least one person you can work with, vent to and rely on.
For all the other Accredited professionals out there, I hope you will consider being that support for prospective APRs who are just beginning to set out on the water. Best wishes for finding that “moment of swing” together.
Brett Sweeney, APR, was born to tell stories (of the truthful variety). Brett has been telling the story of public education in the Niagara region for nearly eight years as a member of the communications team at the District School Board of Niagara. Prior to that, he informed, challenged and entertained news and sports junkies alike as a broadcast journalist working in the southern Ontario area.