When I prepared for an Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) in 2006, I quickly realized that the process was about more than a test. The process allowed me to both reflect on the highlights of my career to date and refocus on the principles of what it takes to be an excellent, ethical practitioner.
So I really don’t know why I thought that when I went through the process to transition from an APR to the newly created military-specialty APR+M that the experience would only be like a test.
Instead, I had a chance to reflect on my military career and what made military public affairs different from public relations. I had the opportunity to more deeply explore joint public affairs doctrine, historic milestones impacting military public affairs like the Goldwater-Nichols Act and ponder challenges unique to the military.
Having now gone through the APR+M process, I clearly see it is exactly what the name implies: APR plus military expertise. A candidate must exhibit the same high quality and ethical practice examined in the Readiness Review, plus demonstrate an advanced understanding of military public affairs that can only come through years of experience and leadership.
If you are a public affairs officer or government contractor supporting the military and already have an APR, I challenge you to the next stage of testing your mettle as a communicator.
If you don’t yet have your APR and have always wondered how it could benefit a public affairs officer, I challenge you to begin the process and see how you can grow as a public affairs officer by reflecting on your career.
Whether you’re adding the +M or becoming Accredited for the first time, the journey is worth the hard work.
Kaye Sweetser, APR leads two very different lives. During the week, she’s an academic at the University of Georgia where she is an associate professor of public relations. Dr. Sweetser recently advised her school’s Bateman Case Study Competition team who won the PRSSA national championship. On the weekends, you can often find her in a Navy uniform where she is a public affairs officer in the Navy Reserve. Lt. Cmdr. Sweetser supports the Navy’s Emerging Media Integration team working on fun projects in Facebook, Twitter and in other social media tools trying to tell the Navy story. She was a part of a team that won a Silver Anvil Award in 2007 in the government crisis communication category and honored as the 2009 junior reserve Public Affairs Officer of the Year. As a part of the APR+M Advisory Council, Sweetser has been able to combine her worlds as academic and officer and help usher in the new military-specialty Accreditation.
Are you ready for your APR+M? Make history this October in Washington DC at the PRSA 2010 International Conference: Powering PRogress and have the distinction of becoming one of the first APR+M practitioners and complete your application by Sept. 13.
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