Accredited in Public Relations. It just sounds plain cool. I wanted to be able to put the letters APR after my name. As with so many of life’s decisions, what often seems like a clear-cut goal soon became an all-encompassing trek into new territory. I feel like a better, more strategic practitioner after earning my APR. It’s like traveling to “public relations utopia” — maybe you can’t live there, but you can take back souvenirs to make your work and life better!
Here are my tips for earning your APR.
1) Seek out a study session. Attend it! One of the biggest assets in understanding the entire Accreditation process was my local PRSA Chapter’s APR Study Sessions and coaches.
2) Study one-on-one with a coach or mentor. Communication Models and Theories was a KSA area that I was having problems understanding. My local coach offered to help, and we met for a study session. With her expertise, the area I was most worried about became one of the areas in which I excelled.
3) Rent books from Amazon. The most comprehensive book I found for the test was“Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations (EPR).”However, it can cost more than $100 for either a new or even used version. The solution was to rent this and other books from Amazon for half the price. Oftentimes on Amazon, you also can return certain books for no charge within 30 days.
4) It’s about skill and endurance. One aspect I was unprepared for in attaining Accreditation was you not only need the knowledge but also the drive to keep moving forward. The process eats up free time between studying, answering the Readiness Review questionnaire, prepping for the Review Panel, etc. My method was to mentally fully commit and continuously work toward the next step.
5) It’s about more than an examination and letters after your name. Passing the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations was a goal, but I learned a lot from the entire process. I still keep the study guide provided on the PRSA website and refer to it for issues that pop up at work.
Becoming Accredited in Public Relations is actually more of a starting point than a final goal. The process has spurred me on to enhance and enrich my career. I bet it will do the same for you.
Melissa Herron, APR, is the corporate communications coordinator at Norman Regional Health System, a network of hospitals and health care providers in Oklahoma. Before venturing into the world of public relations, Herron worked as a newspaper reporter. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.