Three days before Christmas, I gave myself an exciting career present: I took the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations and passed, earning my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) certification. The end of a year-long study and learning process had come to a conclusion.
For the uninitiated, APR is an independent designation for strategic communications professionals nationwide. It consists of a Panel Presentation of a case study in strategic communications and a comprehensive examination, which took about three hours to complete.
According to the APR website, the purpose of earning your certification is, “To unify and advance the public relations profession by identifying those who have demonstrated broad knowledge, experience and professional judgment in the field. The program seeks to improve public relations practice. The designation Accredited in Public Relations (APR) signifies a high professional level of experience and competence.”
Personally, in my career as an investor relations and strategic communications professional, the path was the most important part of this process. Learning and putting into practice all the formal steps of the strategic development process was very enlightening to me, as we tend to do abbreviated strategies for clients on a regular basis.
However, pushing through my personal weakness areas in the planning, implementation and evaluation process of integrated communications and marketing will bring great value and increased effectiveness our clients.
We have all heard of SMART Goals, and probably understand strategy creation, but learning and working with the RPIE method (Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation) made a lot of sense and really helped break down the steps necessary to accomplish goals.
There were dozens and dozens of positive takeaways, many more memorable moments and lots of access to new information on my APR journey.
The nearly 12-month process included weekly study sessions, an online study course, readings, and then a Panel Presentation where I presented a comprehensive strategic plan that I had created. Upon being recommended to Advance through that milestone, it was time to prepare for the Examination, which took me nearly three hours to complete.
Because my test-taking days are long in the rearview mirror, this was a difficult undertaking. However, I personally love the education process, and the growth and development as a business executive, marketer and consultant that comes with.
Overall, earning my APR turned out to be a good decision with an exciting outcome for me and our business.
Ira M. Gostin, APR is the president and chief marketing officer at 120 West Strategic Communications. He can be reached through the company’s website at www.120west.biz.
Thank you for sharing your journey and insights, Ira! Great testament to the value of the APR, both for its process and its credential. As PR professionals, we need to let others (including our bosses and HR depts) know how important this industry credential is.