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PRofessional Development Week Overview

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Mar 24, 2009 in Career

I recently had a special series on A Step Ahead called “PRofessional Development Week.”

Here are the posts from the series, featuring many great guest bloggers:

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Beyond a Public Relations Degree: Accreditation (PRofessional Development Week)

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Mar 5, 2009 in APR, Career, Guest Post, Public Relations

This post is a part of PRofessional Development Week. The posts from March 2 to March 6 will focus on the development of professional skills of public relations students. If you would like to contribute to this special week on A Step Ahead, e-mail Rachel.M.Esterline {at} Gmail.com.

This is a guest post by Nick Lucido, the president of the Michigan State University chapter of PRSSA.

As students, it’s easy to think in the short run of things during our collegiate career. We get jobs and internships, join student organizations and make time for class – all for the sake of finding a job after graduation.

Here’s something that will make you think even further – what will you be doing to advance your career after graduation? Sure, it might be a couple years down the line, and the recession probably isn’t encouraging this kind of thinking. As public relations professionals, it’s never too early to start thinking about becoming accredited in public relations.

During the weekend, I attended a Regional Activity at Central Michigan University hosted by the CMU and FSU PRSSA Chapters. My favorite session was a discussion with Renee Walker, APR, vice president of public relations and marketing at CMU. She talked not only about career strategy, but professional development opportunities within PRSA. Part of this discussion included some tips and tricks relating to the APR accreditation.

Here’s how PRSA defines the APR:

“APR is a mark of distinction for public relations professionals who demonstrate their commitment to the profession and to its ethical practice, and who are selected based on broad knowledge, strategic perspective, and sound professional judgment.”

The Universal Accreditation Board, a consortium of nine public relations organizations (PRSA is one of these), supervises the accreditation process. Not only do you get to add letters after your name, but this “mark of distinction” signals you are a public relations strategist. Remember, it’s one thing to be able to write a press release or organize a press conference, but it’s another thing to conduct a public relations campaign and have full understanding of the project.

Even though you might be a student or young professional, there are some things you can do to start preparing for the exam:

  • Work in a variety of internship settings and build your portfolio. If you can work in an internship for more than a year, you will probably be able to see more projects start to finish.
  • Check out Preparation Sources for some tips and practice guides for earning this accreditation.
  • Build your “board of directors.” In other words, build relationships and keep in touch with your mentor(s) and senior-level PRSA members to help guide you through the process.
  • Get active in the profession outside your career. Working with nonprofits, taking a board position with your local PRSA Chapter and mentoring students can enrich your career with the skill and knowledge you will need for the exam.
  • Read, read, and read. Even though you just might be sick of reading about public relations, keep up with new books and magazines, subscribe to PR Week, keep an eye on Amazon’s list of top marketing books and even join the PR Book Club. Just because you have completed college or will soon does not mean that your education is over.

Once you have at least between two and five years of public relations experience, you will be eligible to start the process of becoming accredited. Keep in mind that the test is meant for a seasoned practitioner. There are some steps you must take in order to prepare for the exam.

  • Apply for eligibility and prepare
  • Use coaching, mentoring and support services
  • Complete readiness review questionnaire
  • Participate in readiness review
  • Schedule computer-based examination
  • Take the test and rock it

If you’re still wondering if you should take your career to the next level, consider this fact:

APR’s make 20 percent more than other public relations professionals. Have you started studying for the exam yet?

Read some Q&A about APRs here.

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Guest post: Accreditation is where it’s at

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Nov 3, 2008 in APR, Guest Post, National Conference

2008 PRSSA National Conference

Guest post by: David Baker from St. John Fisher College, PRSSA Vice President, Vice President of Client Communications at PRIMA Connections (SJFC’s student-run firm).

Accreditation is where it’s at

One of the sessions from the PRSSA National Conference was a panel that discussed the importance of Accreditation in Public Relations. The panel included Gwyn Walcoff, APR, CCG Public Relations; Jennifer Flowers, APR, Senior Public Relations Officer, Henry Ford Health System; Lt. Commander Brook DeWalt, APR, New Media Directorate, United States Department of Defense and Ann Knabe, APR, Public Relations/Communications Instructor, University of Wisconsin Whitewater & U S Air Force Reserve.

Our panel taught us the following regarding accreditation:

1) The five years of experience rule is no more. Professionals should still have experience before they attempt to take the exam but there is no minimum required to earn the APR title.
2) The new professional should set earning their APR as a goal.
3) If you aren’t getting the strategic experience you need then volunteer.
4) Being an APR sets a professional apart as a strategic and ethical professional
5) Failing your first exam is not unusual; don’t be discouraged. Many professionals take more than one attempt to earn their APR.
6) Use the Web site and your local PRSA Chapter members.

I have met quite a few PR professionals in my short time in PRSSA and I have come to learn one thing about accreditation, there is something about the accredited professional. I think Holly Byars, APR; an assistant professor of Journalism at Arkansas State University has it right when she says, “accreditation assures that a certain standard of quality is met.” The accredited professionals that I have had the pleasure of meeting are some of the most impressive individuals I have met in the twenty years since I went out and got my first job.

Check out the Public Relations Society of America’s Web site for more information.

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