As a career public affairs specialist, I remain committed to the foundations of public relations — Research, Planning, Implementation and Execution, or RPIE — and my journey to achieving Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) was no different. The APR quest for me was first a personal, then a professional accomplishment. A member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) since 1995, I earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in the late 1990s, started a family and worked on. I always had the burning desire to achieve the APR, but it was after a yearlong leadership journey in 2011 that pushed me to turn desire into action.
Following a 2011 Excellence in Government (EIG) Fellows program, I began my APR challenge. I joined the online modules, created a learning plan, made study cards and set aside time each day to read, study or practice. I focused on each phase of the APR study process, carefully and systematically. The online modules were helpful to me as a visual learner. The courses can be reviewed over again (which I did) as I approached the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations. Reading from Cutlip & Center’s Effective Public Relations (10th edition) guided my self-study. The APR Study Guide framed my approach. However, it was the support of a virtual study-buddy that helped me put all learning in perspective. I am ever thankful to Suzanne Dameron, APR for her partnership in our pursuit. Find a partner for your quest!
I earned my APR in October 2013. I am now enrolled in a Ph.D. program, studying public policy and administration. I earned an Award of Excellence from PRSA in June 2013 for “VA: From Dial Up to Dialed In,” and was a speaker at the 2013 PRSA Health Academy and for a Ragan Communications health care communication webinar. I am grateful to the National Capital Chapter of PRSA members for reviewing my materials and providing me with ongoing advice.
The APR opened doors for me personally and professionally. Good luck to all those who are studying and preparing now — make APR personal, make the journey your first step to the next big things.
Stacie M. Rivera, MPH, APR, is a public affairs specialist for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)