Editor’s note: This is the part of an ongoing series of articles from communicators who have earned their Accreditation in Public Relations, describing what led them to become accredited and what the accreditation experience was like for them.
For years, I intended to study for the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations and add this important credential to my portfolio. Coupled with my work experience, I thought it would serve as a proper endorsement of my career.
I had good intentions … but life always seemed to get in the way. Coaching youth baseball, serving on the church council — whatever the case, I was always too busy.
Then 2014 rolled around and I finally decided it was time. I made it a New Year’s resolution and stuck to it. I was going to do whatever it took in 2014 to achieve Accreditation.
I dropped a note to the Accreditation chair of our local PRSA Chapter and expressed my interest. She told me there would be a local study class for the APR forming in 2014. I submitted my application for Accreditation, joined the class and began my preparations. We met on a biweekly basis through early spring, covering each of the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs). Each session specifically focused on the various learning objectives.
By late spring, we had completed our course of study and I began reviewing material at home on nights and weekends. Soon I felt it was time to schedule my Readiness Review.
My panel was both thorough and supportive as we walked through my portfolio. They asked me helpful questions and pointed out a couple areas of focus as I began final study for the computer-based Examination. I felt very comfortable with the RPIE section, for example, as well as media relations. I was not as well versed in the areas of law and ethics or business literacy.
Having their feedback and areas of emphasis for the final month of preparation was invaluable.
Finally, on the day of the computer-based Examination, scheduled in early September, I drove to the site, checked in and soon I was answering questions one by one!
I felt positive about my performance on the Examination. Still, a couple weeks later when I received official notification that I had passed the Examination, I was overjoyed. Also, I had a number of people to thank: from my Accreditation chair to my fellow classmates to the members of my Readiness Review panel.
At the start of the year I set a goal, and throughout the year I worked to achieve it. This all proves it’s never too late to start!
Jeff Gary, APR, has many years of experience in higher education public relations. He currently works as the communications lead for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.