I began the Accreditation process after having acquired 10 years of experience in public relations. Moreover, my public relations training came about largely via an apprenticeship. Like many a practitioner, I entered public relations after a successful career as a print journalist and joined an up-and-coming agency in the Detroit (Mich.) area. After making the transition, I found that many of the core values that guided me as a reporter and editor served me well as a public relations counselor and media relations manager. However, public relations is about much more than being just a “journalist in residence,” as one author described it.
Looking back, there were times when my assessments and methods were perhaps too narrow. So I found the APR process — from the Readiness Review questionnaire to the portfolio presentation to studying for the computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations — to be quite helpful and thought-provoking in terms of adding more structure and confidence to my approach. Once I began studying for the Examination, I found validation for some of my thinking and ways of doing things. In other instances, the study materials helped to broaden my knowledge and scope of the business. I was particularly fascinated by the deep history of public relations and how much the practice is rooted in our nation’s founding.
However, I do agree the practical knowledge and experience goes a long way in preparing for the Examination. It is not simply an exercise in rote memorization but is instead more application-based. To use one of my favorite football analogies, a blitz may come from several different directions. As an offensive player, what will you do to protect the ball and your teammates? That’s sort of how Examination felt for me. Fortunately, I picked up enough of the “blitzes” to make it into the APR end zone.
Bob Campbell, APR, Owner and President of RH Campbell Communications, Inc., is the Media, Marketing & Communications Manager of the Flint Community Schools.