Why Get Your APR?

3 excuses for why I didn’t and 3 reasons I’m glad I finally did

Like many, I graduated with my bachelor’s, went into the workforce, gained a ton of experience, and never had any problems climbing the ladder. I always rested on my experience, reputation and skills to help me succeed. Given what little I knew about the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) I had three reasons why I had no intention of going through the process.

First, it signaled a huge time commitment and I never had the time to commit.

Second, it had to be expensive, and while I may have been compensated well, my finances were always devoted to other things.

Third, I simply couldn’t muster the energy it would take to go through the steps to accreditation.

Eventually, I landed in a position where the accreditation had value and I was encouraged to seek it out. So, I finally took the time to investigate the process, the time, and the cost. What I determined was that it really wasn’t an onerous time commitment, the cost was reasonable, and given my experience and knowledge base, it wasn’t going to take as much energy as I feared.

I initially reached out to my chapter APR chair and got the 411 on the process. She helped me navigate the timeline and expectations and provided some much-needed advice on how best to proceed. The application and interview process did take time, but it wasn’t bad. Instead, it was actually beneficial.

Taking stock of your accomplishments and being able to demonstrate them to someone else is a basic interviewing skill. It certainly didn’t hurt me to assemble the material for a group of peers. In fact, it was the first reason I was glad I went through the APR process.

Once I got through the application and interview phase, the exam loomed before me. I was never good at taking standardized tests in school and the thought of taking a single exam over the entirety of the public relations profession was pretty daunting. I sought out other APRs to give me tips, tricks and hints to help me study. And yes, I did have to study. Given my geographic location I didn’t have easy access to a review program, so I was on my own.

In all honesty, I was pretty nervous about taking the test. However, once I finally committed to doing it I wasn’t backing out. I took the exam and passed. This was the second reason I was glad I did it. If I hadn’t passed, I would’ve taken it again. But passing the exam gave me renewed confidence in my knowledge and expertise and I was actually proud of myself.

Finally, being an APR requires continuing education to maintain the accreditation. This requirement forces me to keep up with trends through PRSA webinars, allows me to serve on review committees for other aspiring APRs, and encourages me to attend sectional, regional and national conferences. I shouldn’t need the encouragement, but life is busy and having a reason helps me prioritize.

If you are considering getting your APR, reach out to others in the chapter to talk through the process, benefits and any other concerns or issues you have about the accreditation process. I was a die-hard “never me” on the APR and if I can do it, so can you.

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Dr. Kathie Fleck, APR is an assistant professor in communication and media studies at Ohio Northern University. She has over 25 years experience in private business, politics, government, non-profit and higher education. She has published numerous articles and presented research at more than 23 regional, national and international conferences. Her research interests include crisis communication and political communication.