By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)\
For the past few years, one way I gave back to the public relations profession was to help nurture professionals who were pursuing the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential through my volunteer work on behalf of PRSA Chicago.
I’m pleased and proud to share these thoughts from Anne O’Connell, APR, a Chicago area communications professional who participated in the Chapter training program in 2014 and earned the APR earlier this year.
Here’s Anne’s unedited replies to my questions regarding the APR challenge.
Thank you, and again, I appreciate your help. It’s hard to pick just one most challenging aspect as the overall process is taxing. At first, I was worried about the timing of the research and my case study. How would that mesh with my readiness review and the timing, based on the year, during which to take the examination? Michael Henry (of Online2Learn, producer of the APR online study program) also was helpful in reassuring me that my timeline was doable. The case study does require a lot of mental energy, but it’s worth it.
2. How do you plan to use the knowledge, skills and abilities learned from the APR process in your work?
I already have been using the KSAs in my current position. I have been informally mentoring my staff in the best practices I’ve learned. I work at an all-girls private high school and have started a club for students interested in public relations, journalism, graphic design and related fields. I have shared some of my new knowledge with these students, as well.
3. Can you provide a brief overview of the experience at the ProMetric Testing Center? Were you intimidated in any way by the rigid testing process?
I checked out the ProMetric center prior to my testing day. The staff were helpful and explained how things would work. I wasn’t intimidated. In fact, one thing I found slightly amusing, on the morning I took the exam, was the staff told me if I went into the testing center with my zip-up sweatshirt on (over a T-shirt), I’d have to keep it on for the duration of the test. Other tidbits were I could not take Kleenex into the testing area, nor could I take a couple of cough drops I had in my sweatshirt pocket. Now, I would not cheat, but even if I were so inclined, there is no way one could put cheat notes on a cough drop wrapper!
All that aside, the test itself was situation after situation – very much process based, as all had indicated. Each screen gives you a scenario and then multiple-choice answers. I took a break to get a drink of water about half-way through. The time seemed to go quickly, though I did not feel rushed and had extra time than I needed to finish. I found some of the answers to slightly contradict what I had learned, but I chose the most logical answers that were closest to being what I considered being correct. I only marked a few questions to return to ponder further, but when I did so, I left the answers as I originally had them.
4. The numbers tell the story: The APR program has been in decline, and PRSA has launched a concerted program to boost participation by professionals. What do you think needs to be done to get more professionals to pursue Accreditation?
I’m not up on what has been considered or done, but perhaps college/university professors could be engaged to help encourage students to pursue the APR once they are eligible. It occurs to me, though, having just met a young professional that the timing is interesting. Once graduating from college, s/he needs five years in the profession. That timing roughly puts people around the age of getting married and then perhaps having children. Maybe there is a way to quantify that the APR enhances one’s earning potential, and that could be promoted extensively.
5. In 50 words or less, give a shout out on why all serious PR professionals should consider earning the APR.
I highly recommend that serious PR professionals earn the APR. I am much more strategic, valuable and confident. I wish I would have pursued my APR earlier in my career. One of my goals now is to directly encourage colleagues I know and then mentor them through the process.