April is APR Month!
“Does having your APR help you get a promotion or a better job?” That’s a question I hear frequently from young public relations professionals who are contemplating earning their Accreditation in Public Relations. My answer—“No, not really”—almost always elicits surprised looks, especially when you consider my role as APR Chair for the Volunteer PRSA Chapter! But then I explain.
Over the course of my career in public relations, I cannot prove that simply having the three letters “APR” by my name got me a single promotion or new job. However, I can say emphatically that earning my APR was one of the best things I could have done to advance my career, because what I learned in studying for my APR—and the confidence I gained in the process—have propelled my career and continue to pay dividends even today, 28 years into my PR adventure.
Here, briefly, is why I believe the time and effort I invested in the accreditation process was totally worth it and why it may be valuable to you as well: Earning your APR helps you…
- Fill in the gaps. I was a biology grad with an MBA in marketing when I found myself in the public relations profession by twists of fate. Studying for the APR exam gave me the opportunity to fill the gaps in my education and assure myself that I had mastered the fundamental strategies and principles of communication that I needed to be the very best PR professional I could be.
- Hone your strategic thinking (and articulation) skills. I should triple underscore this one. The accreditation process equips you not only with the foundational knowledge needed to develop sound public relations strategies but also with the ability to articulate and defend those strategies. Most APRs will tell you that this aspect of the APR process pays the most tangible dividends—it helps PR professionals earn a respected seat at the management table.
- Be a lifelong learner. The APR is a “living” credential that must be maintained through continuing education and professional development, leadership in and contributions to the profession, and public service. Some might see that as a hassle, but I love the incentive it provides to be a lifelong learner, to keep my skills up to date, and to give back to a profession that has been good to me.
- Demonstrate your commitment to the profession. Some will argue against the value of the APR, saying that there are many successful persons in the public relations field that don’t have their APR. Yes, that’s true, but earning your APR is about more than getting a ticket to the fast track; it’s also about expressing your own commitment to the profession. Earning your APR says “I care enough about my profession to treat it as a profession—to invest in its body of knowledge and to commit to its code of ethics.”
I hope you will commit this year to pursuing your APR. April is the perfect time to start. In recognition of APR Month, the APRs of the Volunteer Chapter are hosting a series of workshops designed to introduce the process and share our best advice on preparing for the review panel and computer-based exam. Download the schedule of workshops here. We hope to see you there.
You can learn more about Accreditation in Public Relations and start your own APR process today at http://www.praccreditation.org/apply/, and you are welcome to contact me at (Jennifer@cathey.co) if you have any questions.