Earning the APR takes nothing less than immersing yourself completely in the process as if you’re learning a new language.
In the beginning of my journey into the Accreditation process, I was confident in my experience.
Preparing for the Readiness Review panel, I pulled together my portfolio and practiced my presentation relentlessly. I was convinced that was the hardest part of the process. After getting the thumbs up from the panel, I was on cloud nine. Golden. Next up, the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations. No doubt I would pass it.
Then life happened. My family and I had just moved to a new city. I had taken on a new, more demanding role, and my time to take the Examination was running out. Still confident, I didn’t spend enough time reading the material from recommended texts and the study guide.
Instead, I focused on application of principles. Thinking I knew “enough” to recognize material, I spent time attending my Chapter’s luncheons and I volunteered to judge other Chapters’ award entries to seal my knowledge in public relations planning.
The Examination day came. I took the Examination and failed. It was horrifying. I don’t fail things. How could this happen? After the five stages of grief, I picked myself back up and paid to take the Examination again. This time, I was more determined than ever to achieve Accreditation.
I changed my methods and focused on memorizing essential information for each KSA. I studied the book, “Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations,” by Glen Broom and Bey-Ling Sha, in-depth while following the study guide provided at www.praccreditation.org.
I dedicated uninterrupted time each week to study. This was difficult because I work full time and have a young family. The challenge was overcoming my guilt for spending time away from my family and giving myself that time to invest in my career.
I cleared my mind several days before the Examination. I took two cherished vacation days prior to the Examination date and disconnected myself from work. I studied at home, without stress, enjoying the quiet, my slippers, yoga pants and the occasional chai tea latte. Devoting the time made all the difference.
None of my study methods were wrong. The power was in combining them and fully immersing myself in the material through every avenue available. I walked out of the testing room with true confidence the second time. No doubt I had passed.
My perfect blend was dedicating time to studying the texts, attending Chapter luncheons, having discussions with an APR mentor and volunteering to judge award entries. What will your perfect blend be?
Jill Anderson, APR, is the director of marketing at ACH Child and Family Services in Fort Worth, Texas, a nonprofit agency dedicated to protecting children and preserving families. She leads the agency’s integrated marketing and communications planning, digital and print presence, and media relations. Connect with Jill on LinkedIn.