A young PR professional approached me at a recent Minnesota Chapter event when she saw the “APR” on my name tag. “Can you tell me about the process,” she began. Absolutely. I’m happy to speak to any and all people about my long journey to attaining my APR. Long, because it took me years to convince myself it was worth the time and effort. Now I feel silly for delaying what in the back of my mind seemed inevitable.
I told her about the free, two-day workshop our Chapter conducts each winter to help prepare candidates. I told her about the three-person Readiness Review I went through during a beautiful summer evening in a local library. I told her about the flashcards I used to study, the books I reviewed, the first I took the computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations and how I missed passing by 1 percentage point, the disappointment and then the determination to get it done, which I did the second time. I told her how the entire process reminded me about much of the “stuff” I had forgotten over the years, and how it made me a better PR professional. And again, I told her how silly I felt for putting it off for so long.
I’ve been active in PRSA off and on for as long as I’ve been practicing PR. I’ve served on committees and attended events but always begged off whenever someone suggested I get Accredited. “I’ve got too much going on,” I said. Raising kids, writing a novel, completing “honey-do’s” around the house, walking the dog, brushing the cat.
About three years ago, at our Chapter’s annual holiday party, a friend of mine rejected my response when I told him I had too much going on. He said that wasn’t a good enough answer. Just do it, he urged. I didn’t. The following year, at the holiday party, he started up on me again. “What are you waiting for?” he asked. He reminded me that I had 20 years under my belt, plenty of experience to successfully navigate the process.
I then thought of the story about the professor who stands before her class with a glass jar full of golf-ball-sized rocks. “Who thinks this jar is full?” she asked. Several of her students raised their hands. She picked up a bucket and poured smaller rocks in the jar, working them in between the gaps left by the large rocks. “How about now?” A few more students raised their hands. She continued this process next with a bucket of sand, then a bucket of water. As the students learned, we have different perceptions of when enough is enough.
When we think we are too busy, there’s usually more time if we just prioritize. So I prioritized. And I’m glad I did.
Dan Hauser, APR, is director of communications, education and events for the Minnesota Medical Association, the state’s largest physician advocacy group. He has been practicing public relations since 1995, with experience at three agencies, a Fortune 500 utility and a nonprofit.