I worked in television news for twelve years before changing professions. I moved into public relations simply because it seemed like a logical next step; plus I had seen other journalists make the move successfully. As I became more immersed in public relations, I began to seek out more knowledge to further improve my abilities. I wanted to know more to better myself and become an asset to my organization.
I went into the process not quite knowing what to expect. I heard the stories of several candidates taking the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations two and three times to pass. I was determined to reach this goal on the first try. My age and home life also had something to do with that. I am 43 years old with a wife and five children, so I knew I would sacrifice some of my time with them to climb the mountain to Accreditation. I only wanted to make that climb once.
I am happy to say my organization, The Salvation Army, and specifically my supervisor, backed me the whole way — another reason to earn my APR on the first go-around.
I began the process mostly on my own, seeking some advice, but not a lot. I joined a study group through my PRAM chapter and began reading. After two to three months of reading and preparing my project plan, I scheduled my Readiness Review.
Quick note on my public relations plan: My project was not successful. My project was to create a newsletter and raise donations from that newsletter. The initial “test” did not even raise enough to pay for the newsletter itself, so it was tabled.
I say this so you understand the whole Accreditation process is one of improving and bettering you as a public relations professional. I went into my Readiness Review not really understanding this, but now I do. My panel asked me plenty of probing questions, but in the end they wanted to grow the profession, and at the same time make sure I was a candidate who could improve the public relations profession through my work.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the APR Online Study Course. I took it after my Readiness Review, but the course will definitely prepare you to craft your project plan as you prepare for the Readiness Review. Take the APR Online Study Course!
I gave myself another month after the online course to read and study more before taking the computer-based Examination. I went in believing I could not have studied any more than I did. I told myself I will know if I studied enough as soon as I read the first question. Turns out it took me till the fifth question for everything to kick in. I got over my nerves and worries, and finished the Examination with an hour to spare.
The bottom line advice I can give: Take the process seriously, do all you can do to prepare, and in the end becoming an APR will be an affirmation of your hard work.
Jon Kalahar, APR is the communications director for The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.