So you’re working in the field of public relations, but have you truly made it official? The best way to establish your credibility within our profession is to become “Accredited in Public Relations.” That’s right…adding three letters to your signature line (APR) is an important next step in your career (and mine).
A breakout session led by Susan Ennis, APR, CPRC, outlined the APR process: ‘A voluntary program that allows you to demonstrate your proficiency in public relations through a standardized written exam following advancement from an oral readiness review.’ With the APR distinction, clients and colleagues will value that you have the knowledge, experience and judgment in planning and managing public relations activities. Following these steps to gain their confidence and your own self-satisfaction:
1. Apply for Eligibility (FYI – FPRA is one of nine organizations that participate in the Universal Accreditation Board) o Print eligibility form from UAB Web site.
o Submit completed eligibility form with payment.
• $385 examination fee at time of application; or
• $410: $205 at time of application and $205 after candidate advances Readiness Review
o Receive notification of eligibility from UAB through PRSA.
o Candidates have one year from eligibility approval to advance Readiness Review and take the computer-based Examination.
o Access Q&A and reference materials on the UAB website – explore tons of helpful resources!
o Participate in local preparation courses, mentoring and coaching.
- Most FPRA chapters have local study groups; some chapters connect you with neighboring chapters.
- Chapters often host multiple study group sessions offering different speakers addressing a variety of topic areas (that will be a part of the exam).
- Review sample questions.
o Purchase or borrow books.
o Find a study buddy.
3. Download / Complete Readiness Review Questionnaire
o Located on UAB website.
o Complete the three sections at your own discretion: a. Your organization and your role, b. Your experience, c. Your assessment of your readiness for the computer-based Examination.
o Request a Readiness Review via your local VP of Accreditation.
o Submit four copies of questionnaire to local Accreditation Chair, at least 15 business days in advance of the scheduled review.
o Prepare readiness review portfolio/presentation and practice.
4. Readiness Review
o Present portfolio and respond to interview questions.
o Panelists score knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) in 16 focus areas.
o Panelists help assess and direct the candidate’s study preparation. Try not to be intimidated…the panelists are your friends and colleagues championing for you!
o PRSA notifies candidate to advance/not advance to computer-based examination.
o If you advance, you receive a unique ID number to be used to schedule examination.
o If not advanced, candidate may repeat the Readiness Review after 90 days. Reach out to your APR chapter chair and your panelists for feedback and counseling.
o May appeal the result to the UAB after two re-takes of the Readiness Review.
5. Schedule Computer Based Exam
o Schedule the examination at your convenience (at least 30 days in advance) at a Prometric testing center using your unique ID number.
o Remember, must complete the computer-based Examination before the one-year eligibility timeframe expires. Use it or lose it.
6. Take exam
o This is a three hour test so prepare accordingly (dress comfortable, eat breakfast, pack water, etc.).
o Receive immediate feedback with official pass/fail notice from PRSA within 2 – 4 weeks.
o If passed, the UAB may grant Accreditation and notify you and your local Accreditation chair.
o If retake is necessary, repeat steps #5 and #6. The APR exam draws its questions from all areas of the public relations body of knowledge, including:
KSA Group Researching, Planning, Implementing & Evaluating Programs 30%
Ethics and Law (especially copyright law) 15%
Communication Models and Theories 15%
Business Literacy 10%
Management Skills and Issues 10%
Crisis Communication Management 10%
Media Relations 5%
Using Information Technology Efficiently 2%
History and Current Issues in Public Relations 2%
Advanced Communication Skills 1%
The APR experience is typically a six-month process that requires your commitment of 3 to 6 hours weekly toward exam studies. Yes, it’s hard work but your effort will pay off! After you have passed the APR examination, you are required to maintain your commitment to continuing education (at least every three years). Review more information on the entire process here.
Susan Ennis, APR, CPRC, president and founder of EnSpire Communication Consultants in Orlando, Fla., is Accredited in Public Relations and a Certified Public Relations Counselor. She has more than 20 years of experience in corporate communications and business development and is actively involved in the Florida Public Relations Association as this year’s Vice President of Accreditation and Certification.