Throughout your public relations career, you’ll face challenges, reach goals and celebrate successes. One of the challenges you may face is the journey towards earning the APR (Accredited Public Relations). Achieving this measure of professionalism is a major personal and career accomplishment. Earning it is an example of your perseverance, energy and dedication to your craft.
However, if work or personal commitments are keeping you busy, you may ask yourself if you’re ready to pursue it. If you’re feeling unsure, you can eliminate uncertainty by using the APR self-assessment tool to determine if you’re ready.
The National CPRS Council on Accreditation has created a checklist as a guide for interested professionals, and the number of checkmarks helps determine your level of readiness. The first five are ones you most likely have already reached by the time you consider going for your APR. You should already have a minimum of five years professional PR experience, where you have dealt with different types of issues, publics and situations. You should demonstrate proficiency in grammar, spelling and punctuation. As well, you should be able to write or speak well in one of Canada’s two official languages.
The checklist also suggests asking yourself if you’re confident in your understanding of public relations theories and communications principles, such as the RACE theory, being able to link goals and objectives to outcomes, and how to deal with crisis communications effectively. You should have experience in leading or directing projects or people towards strategic objectives or play a role in actually developing those strategies.
The checklist also recommends familiarizing yourself with the Accreditation Handbook and reviewing the suggested reading list on the CPRS Accreditation website. This material can only benefit your confidence and knowledge as you begin your journey towards accreditation.
The self-assessment tools ask if you follow regional, national and international news, which is crucial to PR professionals who want to be aware of what is going on in the world and how this is affecting people and business. Throughout your career, you should be getting your news from a variety of sources and be in tune with radio, television and online sites.
The checklist questions if you’re pursuing the APR for the right reasons. The guidelines suggest that earning it may not mean a bigger paycheque or a higher position but it will most likely affect you personally because it’s a significant accomplishment and one you will feel proud of achieving, and this will reflect in the quality of your work.
The final question on the self-assessment checklist is one of the most important. You should ask yourself if you’re committed to staying involved in this industry and willing to participate in the lifelong learning of this field. This is a commitment to take seriously but one to value as a work and personal accomplishment. Once you attain your APR designation, it’s important to maintain it.
Once you feel you’re ready to proceed, you may consult with a mentor. You can find one either from your work, CPRS activities or your local accreditation chair. But while you may approach professionals for guidance, has anyone come to you for support? If your peers have sought out your guidance, it’s most likely because they trust your level of knowledge and experience, which is a good indication you have the skills to start pursuing your APR designation.
If you have more questions about earning your APR or if you want to connect with other PR professionals, CPRS is hosting an APR information night on Wednesday June 20th. This evening of networking will feature PR professionals who will answer your questions and most importantly, provide guidance as to how you should start working towards your designation. You’ll have the chance to meet and mingle with a number of accredited professionals, which should ensure an enlightening evening.
When you decide you’re ready to pursue your APR designation, the Council can provide you with support to help you apply and reach personal and career success.
Roberta Graham is a volunteer helping with the APR Information session. Roberta is a media communications professional with a focus on social media and SEO. She has also coordinated and managed a number of events and would enjoy doing more. She is passionate about writing, current events and achieving her black belt in kickboxing.