In the spring of 2010, I was working in a mid-level PR job at a company that I loved. While I had a lot of good on-the-job experience, there were several times I wished I had more knowledge. I wanted something that would give me the extra training and credibility that others in my field might not have.
I had heard of the APR certification through my PRSA membership. I knew that earning the certification would help me stand out, but I was too intimidated to give it a try. I kept putting it off. Then I got the push I needed: finding out I was expecting my first child right before Christmas.
I decided that I wanted to get as much training as possible before the baby came. Not only would time become more limited after she arrived, but I wanted to be the best possible PR person I could be so that I would have cutting-edge knowledge when I came back to work after maternity leave.
I started the process immediately, and was supported every step of the way by my local PRSA Chapter. I attended an informational meeting and several study sessions. I found a study buddy and we got together several times to go over material. Studying and preparation took time, but it wasn’t as overwhelming as I had anticipated. I was able to carve out space in the evenings and on weekends, and it only took me a couple of months to get ready. All my efforts paid off: I successfully passed my Panel Presentation and the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations on the first try, and have been proudly certified since summer 2010.
Having the certification has greatly helped my career. I became president of my local PRSA Chapter in 2017 and executive director of a small nonprofit. I’m now considered an expert in communications by those around me.
Getting my APR has given me confidence, knowledge and an edge on my competition. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
For more information about the Accreditation in Public Relations process, visit www.praccreditation.org.
Jill Harrison, APR, is the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, located in Oklahoma City. She has been in the communications field for 13 years. She is the current president of the PRSA Oklahoma City Chapter.