Five tips to prepare for your APR journey

By Laura Eaton Barnard and Emily James, Accreditation Committee, Hoosier Chapter of PRSA

PR pros wishing to further their professional knowledge should consider pursuing the APR (Accredited in Public Relations). This is the designated standard of excellence for members of PRSA who have demonstrated their commitment to the profession. Below are five tips for potential candidates to prepare for their APR journey.

1. Learn more. Once a PR pro has decided he or she wishes to pursue their APR, it is important to look into the available resources to help guide them through the process. The PRSA Hoosier chapter has a nationally-recognized APR review course, which is designed to prepare candidates for their readiness review and gain a basic understanding of the material found of the computer-based exam. Currently, the nine-week course is held in the fall; email for more details.

2. Preparing a project. A critical element in the APR process is preparing a project to present the readiness review. Many potential candidates struggle finding the “perfect” project, but this simply can lead to unnecessary stress. It is not required that the project be related to the candidates’ professional job. In fact, it can be part of a volunteer effort, church event or other non-work related activity. As long as the project demonstrates the candidate’s understanding of the four-step process (research, planning, implementation, evaluation), it will be perfect to present to the readiness review.

3. The readiness review. This is the first major hurdle a candidate must cross in the APR process. The panel consists of three APRs, whom the candidate will meet on the day of their review. The goal of the readiness review is to determine whether or not the candidate understands public relations well enough to sit for the exam and represent the profession as an APR. The review takes no more than two hours, during which time the candidate will be asked questions related to their project, experience and reasons for pursuing the APR. By agreeing to sit on the panel, these APRs have made a commitment to the candidate to serve as mentors throughout the remainder of the APR process.So, if the candidate does not pass the review, the panelists are willing to work with him or her to sit on another panel at a later date.

4. Study. Once a candidate has passed the readiness review the first thing to do is take a short break before preparing for the exam. Going into study mode is made easier with a clear head. All the information candidates need for the exam is available through the APR review course and recommended reading materials. Many candidates find that making flashcards are an excellent way to study.

5. Sit for the exam. Candidates have three hours, 45 minutes to complete the exam which covers the following topics:

  • The four-step process (research, planning, implementing and evaluating PR programs) – 30%
  • Ethics and law – 15%
  • Communication models and theories – 15%
  • Business literacy – 10%
  • Management skills and issues – 10%
  • Crisis communication management – 10%
  • Media relations – 5%
  • Using information technology efficiently – 2%
  • History of current issues in public relations – 2%
  • Advanced communication skills – 1%

Upon completion of the exam, the screen will inform the candidate if he or she passed, but the official notification will be sent from the Universal Accreditation Board and PRSA within a few weeks. Once the candidate has achieved their APR an official pinning ceremony will be scheduled, during one of the monthly luncheons, to recognized the individual for their achievement.