Leading Off: APR is Really ABC

Kevin Christian, APR
Kevin Christian, APR


These three letters intimidate a lot of people for a lot of reasons. For years, I dismissed becoming Accredited in Public Relations because I didn’t need it. I had two college degrees and knew what I was doing, or so I thought. After 11 years in school PR, I decided the “next step” was necessary and appropriate. “Why not” go for accreditation, I thought. If I was “doing” school PR as my profession, I should strive to attain the highest standards possible for two reasons: first, that I could achieve APR; and second, APR is the logical step to advance my career and set myself apart.

During my APR journey, I discovered much of what I did on the job was based on the concepts endorsed by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) for the public relations profession — Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation. I just didn’t realize the merits of RPIE (also known as RACE — Research, Assessment, Communication and Evaluation) until I experienced the accreditation process. I now share this revelation with colleagues and encourage them to think “ABC” when it comes to pursuing APR:

  • A = acknowledge you want it for truly valid reasons;
  • B = believe in yourself; and
  • C = concentrate on what’s required — it’s not an easy task!

Our friends across the country also recognize the importance of APR and the experience value of its pursuit. I posed several questions to fellow NSPRA members regarding their accreditation experiences:

Earl Dotson, Jr., APRWhy did you pursue APR?

“I am a believer in continuing education. I really enjoy what I do and want to perform it to the best of my ability. I believe that in any profession, you should pursue whatever credentials necessary to be recognized as a professional in your respective field. I was thrilled to discover that in our profession, we have standards and processes that should be observed and followed.”

~ Earl Dotson, Jr., APR
Chief Communications Officer
Rockford (Ill.) Public Schools

Cindy Warner, APRWhat convinced you the timing was right to pursue APR?

“I don’t know that the timing is ever perfectly ‘right.’ As most of us in the school public relations world know, we are often overwhelmed with multiple job responsibilities and little staff support to help accomplish the never-ending tasks before us. As I struggled for years with finding the time to commit to the process, I finally decided to bite the bullet and just do it! I recognized that much like trying to find the ‘exact right time’ or ‘saving enough money’ to have a child, the same was true of the APR process. If you wait for the perfect time, it might not ever come...so you just have to jump in there and do it!”

~ Cindy Warner, APR
Public Relations/Community Education Supervisor
Shelby County Schools, Columbiana, Ala.

Mickey Schoonover, APRWhat was the biggest challenge while pursuing your APR?

“My biggest challenge was understanding the profession through a wider lens. The terminology and structures outside K-12 education can seem foreign. The other major challenge is the time commitment and balancing the learning and portfolio preparation with work and family life. MOSPRA helped by setting up an APR study group that met and learned together. It served as a great source of support and encouragement.”

~ Mickey Schoonover, APR
Director of School-Community Relations
Pattonville School District, Saint Ann, Mo.

Andy Grunig, APRWhat is the greatest benefit of receiving your APR?

“The greatest benefit of receiving APR was it improved my confidence as a PR professional and gave me the credentials to show that I take my career seriously.”

~ Andy Grunig, APR
Communications Specialist
Fairfax County Public Schools, Falls Church,Va.

“It has changed the way I do my job. I was previously more focused on the tactical aspects of my job and didn’t put enough effort into the research and planning stages of many projects. I am now much more strategic in how I go about planning my projects and advising other leaders in my district.”

~ Cindy Warner, APR

How has APR changed your outlook on the PR profession, particularly with school PR?

“One of the most heartening aspects of going through the APR process was learning the strength and depth of NSPRA and PRSA’s Code of Ethics. It mirrors and validates my beliefs about my work and my profession. I am here to serve and advocate for my schools and our community in an honest and respectful manner. When I see the APR credential next to someone’s name, I know they carry with them a deeper level of expertise, integrity and commitment.”

~ Mickey Schoonover, APR

The APR process makes you better because it’s a choice you make - to improve yourself, your knowledge and your overall experience. Professionally, you are challenged, motivated and refined because the process often enlightens and enhances what you already do on a daily basis. APR...is really ABC!

Get Started on Your APR Journey Today!

A great way to pursue your APR is with a cohort in the NSPRA Pre-Seminar APR Prep Workshop in San Antonio, July 8-9.

All the information you need to get started on your APR is on the UAB website, including the updated knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) that are measured are online, and the newly revised APR Study Guide.

Check out this quick overview of Steps to Earning Your APR.

Get social with other current and prospective APRs:

Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC, is the public relations officer and multimedia coordinator for Marion County Public Schools in Ocala, FL. With 52 schools, 43,000 students and 6,000+ employees, the APR process proves most beneficial when he communicates with the district as a single entity with large, multiple audiences. Kevin is chair of NSPRA’s Accreditation Committee and is in his second term as president of SUNSPRA, Florida’s School Public Relations Association. Contract him at: kevin.christian@marion.k12.fl.us.