If you have five years of professional public relations experience, and you haven’t begun to pursue your accreditation in your field, what the heck are you waiting for?
Earning your APR is an exciting challenge that serves as a third-party endorsement to your mad PR skills. All you need to do is apply, present a campaign you have RPIE’d (Researched, Planned, Implemented and Evaluated) to a panel of colleagues, then take a proctored exam of 132 questions.
Let’s discuss some reasons (excuses) you may have for not accepting this challenge and adding this impressive credential to your resume, business card and LinkedIn profile.
- “I’m not a good test-taker.” OK, fair. Neither am I. But, you have been living this work for at least five years. You know how to do it, and you’re good at it! You are equipped with a 161-page study guide, and you only need to get 82 questions correct to pass. Bonus: There is not ONE math question on this test.
- “I don’t have time to do this.” I have a mantra I use when I think I don’t have time for something: “If I only have a minute, it only takes a minute.” We make time for things that are important to us. And, preparing for the APR is classic multitasking. You are doing the work every day that will get you that accreditation. You need only carve out time to read a study guide a few times, present a campaign you’ve already lived and sit for an exam.
- “What if I fail?” To those of you who have never failed anything in your life, failure is not the end of the world. It is actually when we learn the most about ourselves. Study what you missed, and re-take the test. No biggie. (You’re not going to fail, by the way.)
- “I have a job. It’s not going to help me.” For me, the APR process validated my public relations knowledge, skills and abilities. Studying for the exam was a robust review of the basics – things we can stray from as we work day-to-day in our profession. Any professional development you do throughout your life builds more than just your resume. It builds courage and confidence.
- “I can’t afford it.” It costs $385 to take the exam. That might sound like a huge chunk of change to you early in your career. I get that. But you should look at it as an investment in yourself. It may help you to get that next job that comes with a significant raise, and it’s way cheaper than a graduate degree. Employers may agree to help you with this cost, and maybe your PRSA chapter can, too, somehow.
If you choose to go for it, know you’re not alone. I am here to help. Reach out to me anytime for more information, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michele is the Accreditation Chair for PRSA Pittsburgh. She is an associate professor of strategic communication and media at Slippery Rock University. She earned her APR during the pandemic in August 2020.