Anne O’Connell, APR

I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed at first when I realized the magnitude of work I needed to do to earn the APR. I learned that some people do a case study and then apply, but I was starting from scratch, and the clock was ticking.  Some of the material was new to me, especially the research and communication theories.  When I studied public relations in college longer ago than I care to admit, we did learn the RAACE (research, analysis, action, communication, evaluation) formula, but I found my knowledge to be just at the surface.  I had a lot to learn.

I quickly immersed myself in the online program.  I went through each module, did the recommended readings and activities, joined an APR support group already in session, and participated on a regular basis with the weekly webinars.  I enjoyed the mental exercise.  (I’m used to doing more physical challenges.)  I made myself a schedule, set deadlines (we PR people are good at that) and stuck to it even during those summer months when I’d much rather be outside on a long bike ride.

The examination was unique in that all of the questions are processed based, so in a way, it’s hard to study for it.  But if you tackle all of the modules in the online course and participate in study groups and the webinars, and really understand the material, you too will pass.  It was challenging but in an unexpected way, rather fun to know I had learned so much about my profession.

I am so much smarter now and can explain things I intuitively knew.  I find the diffusion of innovation theory especially helpful and have been using it to explain that awareness alone is not enough to affect change.  The emphasis on the personal relationships is key and is more than “just doing a news release” to get attention to a new service or product.  How many times have we all heard that?!

I highly recommend anyone in the public relations profession to pursue the APR.  If you’re like me, you’ll regret not doing so earlier in your career.  And now off to my next challenges: to get my running speed faster and to achieve an un-assisted pullup.