Editor’s Note: 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) and April sets the stage for APR Month. In recognition of those who have earned an APR designation since its inception in 1964, PRSA will be featuring articles written by Accredited professionals. Track the series and join the discussion by using the hashtag #APR50. To learn more about the APR, please visit the Universal Accreditation Board.
As I write this, I am wrapping up the first month of my 21st year as a proud member of the “Accredited in Public Relations” family.
I have…and always have had…my certificate displayed in a place of honor in every office that I have had throughout those years to remind me that I did something that I thought, for me, would be impossible.
My students are often thrown off balance when I tell them, in my “Principles of Public Relations” or other PR-focused classes that I teach these days at Curry College, that they have more formal classroom exposure to the field than I have after having worked in and/or taught public relations for more than 40 years.
And then I tell them about having studied for and passed PRSA’s rigorous Accreditation exam.
I “formally” started working in public relations in 1977…as a civilian public affairs intern for the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. Prior to that, though, I had spent about 6 active-duty service years in the US Air Force working with or within public affairs units.
But my academic degrees are, first, in English (18th century British literature to be specific) and, second, in business management. I took one PR course as an elective for my business bachelor’s degree.
That is where I actually discovered what public relations is…and that I had been doing public relations for those six years in the Air Force!
So…flash forward some 15 years to 1992, and I’m in Hawaii working as communications director for the Blood Bank of Hawaii. In staff meetings, I’m sitting across the table from MDs and RNs and a blinding assortment of laboratory technician credentials.
I decided that I needed to prove to myself once and for all that I did know what I was doing!
I also have to add that, for the majority of my professional career, I have been a one-person PR department. Only twice in 40-ish years have I been blessed with talented and capable support team members who…unlike me…actually studied the profession and had an idea what they were doing for a living! The rest of the time, as I like to say, “I kind of made it up as I went along.”
So, I attended a prep session hosted by the PRSA Hawaii Chapter on studying for and taking the APR exam and pledged to my inner demon that I would not only take the exam. I would pass the exam!
To paraphrase my South Park idol, Eric Cartman, what I learned in the subsequent process was that, in spite of my own perception of not having a clue, I actually did!
Taking and passing the Accreditation exam has been a source of pride…pride of profession and pride of accomplishment.
I accepted the challenge as a public relations professional to demonstrate my knowledge, and I succeeded.
Are you ready to prove your ability?
Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Associate Professor of Communication (Undergraduate) at Curry College in Milton, MA. He also is Visiting Lecturer, Organizational and Professional Communication (Graduate), at Regis College in Weston, MA. Prior to his move into academia, Kirk practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years in the US as well as Asia. Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Kirk was inducted into PRSA’s prestigious College of Fellows in 2009 and is one of just two actively-teaching college professors in Massachusetts to have earned this distinction. You can read more of Kirk’s musings at his blog “A Professor’s Thought”