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.
If you work in PR, you’re a busy person. It just comes with the territory. So it goes without saying that every moment you spend on one thing is a choice not to invest that moment in something else. The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) absolutely requires a great deal of work, and in total will likely take about six to 12 months to complete. However, if you consider the program in terms of investment versus return, you’ll quickly see the ROI.
Having just obtained an APR in May, my feeling is that it’s worth the inevitable trade-off you’ll have to make. The APR is an opportunity to expand your professional network through the preparation process, learn from other PR pros and their organizations about what has yielded strong returns for them, and take some time to refocus yourself on some of the key tenants of our profession, as well as new and emerging issues and trends.
The best part is, it’s a two-for-one deal, if you make it one. As you put together your case study for the Readiness Review portion of the process, you’ll follow the four-step RPIE (Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation) process. It’s an opportunity to showcase how you have used this process from beginning to end to develop, execute and evaluate a successful public relations effort.
Here’s the secret: This process is also the basis for PRSA Silver Anvil Awards application. For me, my APR Readiness Review served as the basis for a Silver Anvil application for a program for which I had co-led the development and launch: Food Lion’s new community relations platform, Food Lion Feeds. I was able to pull much of what was needed for the Silver Anvil application from my APR Readiness Review, which I had already invested a significant amount of time developing.
At Food Lion, we were incredibly fortunate to take home two Silver Anvil Awards for Food Lion Feeds this year. It was an absolute honor to be recognized among so many talented companies, organizations and individuals across the industry, particularly because our company was the only grocer to make the list.
Did we win an Anvil because of the APR? No. Did it hurt? Definitely not. The APR gets you thinking in the RPIE mindset. If the work you’re doing is significant enough for the APR, it’s significant enough to at least be considered for an award. The Readiness Review case study that you create is the best of the best work you’ve done, and should be something you can reference throughout your career as you brainstorm new campaigns and projects.
The bottom line, at least for me, is that the APR is a significant undertaking and time investment that’s worth it. But, it’s all in what you make it. Why not make it award winning?
Erin DeWaters, APR is the manager of media and community relations for grocer Food Lion. Based in Salisbury, N.C., since 1957, the company operates more than 1,100 stores in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, serves nine million customers per week and employs more than 63,000 associates. Through Food Lion Feeds, the company has committed to provide 500 million meals to individuals and families in need by the end of 2020.