Posted by Mary Bray Gallagher, MBA, APR
Accreditation Chair, Capital Region PRSA
For most professions, there is a single route of entry. If you want to become an accountant, you get a business degree and take the CPA exam. If you want to be a lawyer, you go to law school and take the bar. Folks who work in public relations may come from just about anywhere – some have a formal public relations degree, some have education or training in another area of communications, some come from journalism or broadcasting, many come from marketing or advertising, some enter through politics and some rise through the ranks by working in the industry. How did you get here? If you took an unconventional route, you might consider seeking Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) to solidify your credentials in the field. The APR is the only national certification in the industry and demonstrates a high professional level of experience and competence.
Unlike a formal degree, the APR is pursued largely on your own, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. To take the time to learn the fundamentals of your profession shows dedication and a commitment to the practice of public relations. You need to study, prepare a portfolio of your work, appear before a panel of your peers to demonstrate your abilities and take a difficult exam. In fact, you will be tested on all the key areas of public relations including:
- Research/planning/implementing & evaluating public relations programs
- Ethics and law
- Communication models & theories
- Business literacy
- Management skills & issues
- Crisis communication management
- Media relations
- Using information technology efficiently
- History & current issues in public relations
- Advanced communication skills
I recommend that you spend between six months and a year to prepare. Fortunately, you schedule your review and exam when you’re ready to proceed. As someone who has been through the process, I can tell you that it is not easy, but it is extremely rewarding.
Since April is “Accreditation Month”, PRSA is offering a number of resources this month to help you get started. These resources include a free Online Course Open House on April 24 (for potential APR candidates) and several free on-demand webinars: Knowing Your Business Is Good PR; and Getting Ready for the Readiness Review. Our chapter also offers assistance to potential APR candidates through our chapter lending library and mentoring. We’ll also be announcing our APR Scholarship process for 2012 later this spring.
Is now the time to take the first step in seeking Accreditation in Public Relations? I would say yes, now is the time to add APR to your signature and take it on the rest of your journey.