April is APR Month at PRSA. Learn more about the Accreditation in Public Relations process here.
Every few months, I would print out the APR study guide and read a few pages. Then I’d feel overwhelmed and put the study guide away in some forgotten place.
When I’d get the APR itch again, I’d print out another copy. In July 2018, I took an extra step. I actually put the study guide in a binder, then enrolled in a two-day APR prep session at the annual seminar of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). The instructors, Shawn McKillop, APR, and Naomi Hunter, APR, gave a clear map of the road to Accreditation that didn’t hide the rigor, but made it clear that Accreditation was achievable and worth the work.
I began the APR process at a challenging time. I started a new job in August 2018, and was caring for my mother, who died in March 2019 at the age of 92.
APR studies became my escape from stress and sadness, and I fully committed to them. My family encouraged me. My husband didn’t ask me to move my study guide, Cutlip & Center’s Effective Public Relations, notepads and notecards from the dining room table. My grown children knew not to call on Tuesday evenings between 7 and 8 because that’s when the online study course met.
My school PR friends were key to my success. They lifted me up when sadness enveloped me, when work pressures built or when my confidence waned. They offered advice that helped me improve my APR questionnaire and presentation — and my PR practice.
I gave my panel presentation on July 13, 2019. I received the letter allowing me to register for the computer-based exam on July 30 and took the test on Aug. 2. On test day, I was nervous to hit “Submit,” but I wasn’t surprised to see that green check mark on the screen. I trusted my learning, and in putting my learning to direct use in my work every day, I was confident in my PR knowledge, skills and abilities.
I won’t throw my APR study guide away. I will keep it handy so I can be ready to pay it forward to others who want support along the way in their APR journey.
Catherine Kedjidjian, APR, is director of communications and strategic planning for Glenview School District 34 in suburban Chicago, and is serving a two-year term as vice president at-large, communication technology and innovation for the National School Public Relations Association.
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