In the public relations industry, there is an accreditation I think all professionals should strive for -- the APR (Accreditation in Public Relations). Just as it is a big deal when an accountant earns their CPA, it is a big deal with a public relations professional earns their APR.
I began the process to earn it this past summer. I signed up for my local Public Relations Society of America chapter's APR study course. I printed the study guide. I bought many of the recommended reading materials. Suddenly, it seemed like I was back in school and I got excited! Oh, how I loved college! I especially loved graduate school and the intense focus on one subject.
|The original pile of study materials. It has since grown.|
Working through the course that met weekly, I started reading the recommended books. When I looked at the class schedule and saw we had the readiness review panel scheduled for the end of August, I stopped dead in my tracks. I wasn't prepared for that. I hadn't even started. Heck, I hadn't even applied to go through this process. Thankfully, in class one night, we pushed back the panel until late September. I immediately went home and began completing the application and faxed it in the next day. For about three weeks, I sat on pins and needles waiting to hear if I had been approved to attempt to conquer this process. Finally, I received word -- I could move forward and work towards earning my APR.
It then sunk in I should complete my readiness review for the panel. I can't remember how many questions. I think approximately 18, divided into three sections. Section one was about my professional background. Section two was about the plan. The plan people. That sucker has blood, sweat and tears in it. Since we don't create plans where I work for what we do, I had to create one from scratch and hope they'd let me actually implement it. Section three was about why I wanted to earn my APR, what I was doing to prepare for the computer exam and my level of comfort on the different areas to be covered. In total, my completed readiness review document was 20 some pages.
It was due 15 days before panel -- Sept. 16. After submitting it I had to create a portfolio to present the plan with examples of what had been implemented to that point. My plan wasn't being implemented until October so at that point, the portfolio was pretty weak. But then, panel kept getting pushed back and back. By the time I had my panel (Nov. 1), I had began to implement my plan and had examples to present. Phew.
The panel is comprised of three professionals who have already earned their APR. I've heard horror stories leading up to it and was truly a nervous wreck. Waiting outside the room for them to finish preparing, our APR chair informed me a panelist emailed him prior to panel about how excited they were about my plan. That calmed me immensely.
Despite being absolutely terrifying, I survived panel. My panel was actually an enjoyable experience. A few laughs were shared and I never once felt as if they were preparing to devour me for dinner. I was told I'd hear within a week if I passed or not. Wait. What?! I was told I'd know that day. They have to make the decision that day. Why the wait?! I went home and just collapsed from exhaustion. The next day, a Saturday, I got an email informing me my panel passed me and I could move forward in the process. From the time I left my panel until I saw that email I was a wreck of nerves.
There were screams, a tear or two of joy and a little bit of dancing that I passed my panel. People! I PASSED!!
The next step in this process is the four hour computer exam. I've been reading the study guide and recommend books in preparation. My colleague, who is also working towards her APR, and I meet each week to review different topics. I've taken the practice test and did acceptable. I've slacked at times and been focused at other times during this process.
On Jan. 18, I take the computer exam. If I don't pass, I can retake it 30 days later. Not bad considering if you don't pass the panel you have to wait 90 days. You only have a year to complete the process, which gives me until September 2014.
I want to pass this on the first try. I want to put those three letters behind my name. I want the professional confidence it will instill in me. But what I want even more, I want the pair of Christian Louboutins I've promised to buy myself as a reward for earning my APR. Let me tell you, those shoes are great motivation. I've always wanted a pair of incredible shoes. I prefer shoes to jewelry. The price of them is somewhat ridiculous but with everything I'm putting into earning my APR, I can justify it. Besides, my confidence will skyrocket to the moon from not only having APR behind my name but also having my feet in a pair of Louboutins.
Earning your APR can be a terrorizing and stressful experience. Although I have not completed the process yet, I guarantee you it is worth it. Once this process is complete, I'm confident I'll write more posts about this journey. Perhaps my posts will help a future APR candidate. If nothing else, I'll have my memories from the experience filed away for safe keeping. And of course, I'll be wearing my Louboutins while I write my posts.