Accreditation: Learning the PR Playbook

A funny thing happened midway through my first true PR job in Montgomery, Alabama. My boss, who had been professionally accredited for years by the Public Relations Society of America, wanted me to do the same thing — become accredited in PR.

First of all, what was accreditation, and why did it matter? And why was he so strongly insistent about it?

I had already gotten involved with the Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA), during my first year in Montgomery. PRCA had great professional development opportunities like local, state and regional workshops with the Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF). The SPRF is made up of similar associations from Louisiana, Mississippi and Northwest Florida as well as Alabama.

I had heard about accreditation — how it was for PR people who had several years of experience in the field. Accreditation meant you were serious about PR, that you could demonstrate advanced strategic thinking, and that you had dedicated yourself to the industry through study, practice and continuous improvement.

It also required you to go through a curriculum of study about as rigorous as getting a master’s degree.

Yuk.

I had already taken a crack at graduate work in Montgomery. I had to stop after a year because it was just too much to handle with a young family and a full-time job at BellSouth.

Yet, my boss must have realized that without making PR accreditation a part of my performance commitments, I would probably never make it a priority. He was right.

After more than a year of study, I earned my APR (Accredited in Public Relations) accreditation.

APR preparation taught me the other side of PR blocking and tackling — to the actual playbook mindset needed to guide brands, companies and clients in developing PR strategy.

Getting the APR was a key step in one day becoming president of o2ideas. It taught me the analytical mindset needed to help some of the world’s greatest brands through some of their greatest challenges and victories. We’ll talk about that in the next post.

Meantime, I encourage all PR practitioners to pursue your APR as soon as you can. Don’t leave it up to someone else to make that decision for you.

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