The Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) administers the process for becoming Accredited in Public Relations (APR) on behalf of its Partcipating Organizations, which include NSPRA.
Check out these recommended steps to becoming accredited from NSPRA member Janet Swiecichowski, APR. And if you are wondering when is the right time for you to become Accredited in Public Relations, read this article by Susan Dieck, APR.
Detailed information about the Accreditation Examination and application form to become a candidate for accreditation may be obtained from the UAB website at www.praccreditation.org.
Reasons to Pursue Your APR
Check out these links to some "outside" perspectives on the value of earning your APR:
Does your resume need new acronyms? (CNN/Career Builder Article)
APR Correlates with PR Content (Research results posted by Tim Penning, APR, Associate Professor at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Mich.)
APR Candidates Must Plan for Success
By Karen Geddeis, APR
Submitting the application for APR can be one of the most thrilling experiences in a PR professional’s career. The action demonstrates a commitment to the field and a desire to certify a professional’s knowledge and expertise. But at the same time, taking that first step is a solo operation, which can seem isolating if a candidate doesn’t know about the various support resources available.
The single-most important ingredient to a candidate’s success is a desire and commitment to succeed. APR is a voluntary process, which makes it is easy to veer off course when professional and personal responsibilities compete for attention. Valuing the process and believing in oneself are the key factors that help a candidate stay focused and dedicated to a successful outcome.
Create a timeline: Decide on a pace that suits your lifestyle and be willing to commit at least six months to this process. Plan to schedule time in your calendar to study, just as you would a meeting or other commitment.
Seek the support of a mentor: Find a willing APR who can help guide you through the process. Check with your local chapter APR chair or contact the national headquarters to find additional assistance.
A mentor can review the candidate’s readiness review materials, portfolio and presentation and just generally provide encouragement and insight into the process. And, mentorship is two-fold: it benefits both the candidate and the mentor. In addition, a candidate who was supported through the process will be more likely to return the favor by mentoring a candidate once they earn their APR.
Another form of support will come from the candidate’s readiness review panel. Whether the candidate advances or not, they can acquire guidance from three panelists who want them to succeed. The panelists can offer assistance on how to improve the candidate’s portfolio or presentation, and can help them to address any deficiencies in preparation for the exam.
Utilize various resources: Take advantage of the online course where candidates can connect with each other to ask questions and share information. Use the UAB Study Guide and complete all of the activities. Attend professional development opportunities offered by numerous associations including NSPRA, PRSA, and their local chapters. Contact colleges that have public relations programs, especially if you are a graduate of that school. Get together for some face-to-face interaction with fellow candidates if at all possible.
Karen's APR Journey
I started my road to APR in October 2006 by registering for the online course and by the following October, I was accredited. I dedicated five hours a week to reviewing the online course and two suggested textbooks throughout the winter months. In addition, I met with a few professionals who were also pursuing accreditation to further the discussion and ask questions.
(While I was pursuing APR, I became slightly obsessed with it. Since I had a long commute, I used that time to think through scenarios and practice what I was learning. And, when issues would come up on the job, I found myself trying to apply my new expertise in real situations.)
After completing the online course and all of its activities, as well as reading the textbooks, I filled out my application. In April, I scheduled my readiness review for July and started pulling together my portfolio. I spent eight weeks working on my readiness review questionnaire, and then had two mentors review it.
In the weeks leading up to my review, I rehearsed my presentation. After passing the readiness review in July, I took two weeks "off" from APR. Next, I scheduled my test date for 9 weeks out - in October - and set a review schedule aligned with my deficiencies and the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities, known as KSAs, as outlined by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB). The panelists from my readiness review were happy to suggest areas that I might want to pay extra attention to. So, each week leading up to the test, I focused on a specific topic; for example, I spent a whole week reviewing PR Planning because it is 30% of the test. I used the final week as general review with my notes cards. Finally, I took the test. My mantra was: stay the course!
The next step in the accreditation process is learning more about it. More information is available at the UAB website www.praccreditation.org.
NSPRA members interested in accreditation should contact Associate Director Karen Kleinz, APR, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-519-1227.