The Accreditation process is one of the most rewarding accomplishments I have undertaken as a professor of public relations. I work as an assistant professor at Mississippi State University, and was encouraged to pursue my APR by our department chair. My initial thoughts on the matter were that I would go through a few examinations to earn a title that would better our standing as a public relations department. What I did not realize, and would soon find out, is that the APR process is a long journey that requires study, preparation, self-assessment and subject knowledge that vastly improved my ability to transfer theoretical concepts from research into professional practice, helped me to relay concepts to students with greater ease, and gave me a more precise ethical framework to evaluate public relations practices.
Preparation for the “>Readiness Review encourages practitioners to put in order all of their activities within their organization, which allows introspection into how to make the organization better. It is a detailed assessment that is done with much more scrutiny than what is normally required of public relations professionals in the workplace, and the benefits to the organization of putting together such an assessment are immediate. The panel for the Readiness Review, though initially intimidating for me, really takes time to help evaluate your practices within your organization and offers advice on how to use public relations to better serve your organization. I had the benefit of having a wonderful panel that guided me through the process and stayed in touch with me throughout the examination process.
The Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations takes a LOT of studying. There are study guides, practice tests, PowerPoints, note cards, suggested readings, and it is easy to get lost in the overwhelming amount of information. My advice on the computer-based Examination is to really assess what you, as an individual, have as your strengths and weaknesses prior to beginning to study for the Examination. The Examination is broken down into several components, with varying degrees of worth in the Examination total, and knowing which components are worth more and which components you are weakest in is of tremendous benefit. There are also several study sessions available and preparation courses, but the best advice I can offer is to study! The Examination took me two attempts and roughly eight months of studying. The key is to not get discouraged, have a planned study guide and remember that the road to the APR is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a rewarding process that will give you so much knowledge of the industry, insight into your position within your organization and help you into making more sound decisions as a practitioner. It is an undertaking that I encourage all practitioners in our field to undertake; you will be very happy that you did!
Dr. Skye Cooley is a professor of public relations and political communication in the department of communication at Mississippi State University. He holds degrees in international relations, international studies, political communication, and earned his doctorate in mass communication at the University of Alabama. He has an array of publications and research awards focusing on corporate and political crisis communication. He has traveled extensively through Europe, Latin American, and Africa. Dr. Cooley also has spent time lecturing, researching and traveling throughout the Russian Federation, and has produced numerous pieces related to U.S./Russian relations.