Attaining APR status worth the work, will yield benefits throughout your career
I decided to pursue my APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) for a number of reasons. I believe having APR after my name on my business card (I am not there yet!) will reflect a distinction and expertise that not everyone our field attains. I also want to be recognized as having the “book knowledge” about public relations. This is particularly important to me because my route to PR came through journalism (broadcast news) and having an academic certification will add to my credentials.
A couple of points for you younger PR pros to think about as you mull deciding whether or not to pursue earning an APR. Getting your certification will give you a competitive edge throughout your career, particularly when HR departments sort through resumes and decide who advances to the IN pile. In addition, having an APR will help your earning power—by establishing benchmarks for your salary level as compared to those whose educational attainment ends with a Bachelor’s degree. It will also demonstrate to a prospective employer that you are a life-long learner and are willing to take steps to grow.
Attaining your APR = sweat equity
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with earning an APR, it requires commitment, sacrifice, time, energy, persistence and determination—to name a few of the character traits that will be tested. You will break a sweat in this pursuit! I don’t say that to scare you or deter you. No. Rather, I share that as a way to prepare you for what will be a journey, likely to have successes and setbacks. Better to take the plunge with eyes wide open than with eyes shut!
In my case, I am 2/3rd’s of the way through the process, having completed my Readiness Review and Panel Presentation. My final phase to complete is the APR test itself. From my experience, preparation and participation are going to be the keys to passing the test.
Preparation means budgeting time to do the readings, the exercises and other work needed to recognize the practical applications of the communication theories as presented in the test. Participation means reaching out to those who have passed the test for mentoring support, getting a study buddy or joining a study group, dynamics that can help with accountability and follow through. You will need to treat your APR pursuit as an academic exercise founded on active learning. This is not a test where you cram for the weekend and then expect to pass. As noted, it is more about understanding and recognizing processes than memorizing symmetrical vs. asymmetrical communication theories and practices.
As members of PRSA Detroit, we are fortunate to have a strong accreditation committee. I am grateful for their support in my pursuit. Go to our chapter website to learn more as well as national’s website. There is a plethora of information to help you make a decision. In the meantime, wish me luck as I work to get the finish line. I am determined to do so.
Interested in getting your accreditation? Sign up today.
Kevin Byrnes is the Communications Director for the City of Birmingham (MI). He previously was a Communications Consultant at ByrnesPR & Media Services as well as the Senior Communications Manager for Wayne County (MI). He is a member of the Detroit PRSA chapter (national as well) and serves on the blog committee. He is also a member of the National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC).