This post was originally published on April 9, 2014 on PRSA’s PRSAY blog.
I have… and always have had… my certificate displayed in a place of honor in every office that I have had throughout those years to remind me that I did something that I thought, for me, would be impossible.
My students are often thrown off balance when I tell them, in my “Principles of Public Relations” or other PR-focused classes that I teach these days at Curry College, that they have more formal classroom exposure to the field than I have after having worked in and/or taught public relations for more than 40 years.
And then I tell them about having studied for and passed PRSA’s rigorous Accreditation exam.
A little background might help here.
I “formally” started working in public relations in 1977… as a civilian public affairs intern for the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. Prior to that, though, I had spent about six active-duty service years in the U.S. Air Force working with or within public affairs units.
But my academic degrees are, first, in English (18th century British literature to be specific) and, second, in business management. I took one PR course as an elective for my business bachelor’s degree.
That is where I actually discovered what public relations is… and that I had been doing public relations for those six years in the Air Force!
So… flash forward some 15 years to 1992, and I’m in Hawaii working as communications director for the Blood Bank of Hawaii. In staff meetings, I’m sitting across the table from MDs and RNs and a blinding assortment of laboratory technician credentials.
I decided that I needed to prove to myself once and for all that I did know what I was doing!
I also have to add that, for the majority of my professional career, I have been a one-person PR department. Only twice in 40-ish years have I been blessed with talented and capable support team members who… unlike me… actually studied the profession and had an idea what they were doing for a living! The rest of the time, as I like to say, “I kind of made it up as I went along.”
So, I attended a prep session hosted by the PRSA Hawaii Chapter on studying for and taking the APR exam and pledged to my inner demon that I would not only take the exam. I would pass the exam!
To paraphrase my South Park idol, Eric Cartman, what I learned in the subsequent process was that, in spite of my own perception of not having a clue, I actually did!
Taking and passing the Accreditation exam has been a source of pride…pride of profession and pride of accomplishment.
I accepted the challenge as a public relations professional to demonstrate my knowledge, and I succeeded.
Are you ready to prove your ability?