Every March, our chapter breaks bread with those among us who are accredited in public relations. It’s a good sized group, about 55 APRs among 310 members, who are invited to join what’s billed as PRSA Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Appreciation Breakfast for APRs.
This year the event brought in members from other parts of the Northeast District, including Maine and New Hampshire. (Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, you were with us in spirit.) Also with us were Joe Truncale, who is one year into his job as PRSA’s CEO, and Boston’s own Mark McClennan, PRSA’s national president.
As breakfast meetings go, it was a blast, with ideas, opinions and suggestions in large supply. Discussion touched on the recent membership survey, current website rebuild, new branding program, the popular ethics app (worth a try), and the 2016 convention in Indianapolis and the 2017 convention in Boston.
After breakfast, we caught up with Dan Dent, APR, to get his take on the value, impact, and process in earning the Accreditation in Public Relations. A member of PRSA since 1996, Dan was accredited in 2014 and served as PRSA Boston’s APR co-chair in 2015.
Why did you decide to get your APR accreditation? Why do you think it’s important to your career?
After so many years on the job, it was time to test myself. You can learn a lot about PR during a career, but there’s always that nagging feeling of ‘do you really have the right stuff? Is there something more you could be doing to elevate your career?’ The APR process gave me an opportunity to improve my knowledge about PR—put it to the test—and come out the other side a better professional. Just about every day, my APR helps me improve my value on the job.
What is the process to secure your APR accreditation? What is the time commitment?
Think of the APR process as a semester-long college course. There’s a textbook, course guide, study group, writing assignment, oral presentation and final exam. Thankfully, PRSA overhauled the APR a few years ago. It used to be all about the textbook. Now, it’s about you. You get to choose the PR program, you get to talk about your job and your role in it. It’s very real, very useable in your work life. Earning your APR is confidence building for sure, which is critical as you move up the value chain in your organization and your career. Everyone wants to work with a confident, competent PR professional, and the APR can help you get there.
What was the toughest part of the accreditation process?
Look, we’re all in PR because we can make things happen. We solve problems every day—weird, wonderful, bizarre, crazy-client, wacky-management problems. The toughest part of the accreditation process is getting to the point where you are all in—you are willing to test your skills against the best practices in the businesses. You need to view this as an army boot camp for your career. It will break down your skills and PR thinking, put it through a professional-grade process, and then build it up so you are better than before.
Why should PR professions get their APR?
Do it to give yourself confidence on the job. Do it to send a signal that no matter the role, you possess a professional standard that says I can handle this. Do it to give you a clearer understanding about what good PR looks like and how to deliver it.
Why does PRSA Boston host an APR breakfast?
Earning your APR means different things to different people. Yes, you will get a lapel pin, a certificate suitable for framing, special programs that are ‘for APRs only’ and, if you belong to a fun loving chapter like PRSA Boston, a nice breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day. The mini-muffins were great, and so was the networking. For anyone interested in taking the APR leap, give me a call, or contact our chair of APR. There’s a study group forming right now.
Dan Dent is the Corporate Communications Manager at Benchmark Senior Living and Owner of Dent Communications. In 2017, Dan will serve as president of PRSA Boston, which is hosting the PRSA International Convention in October. You can reach Dan on Twitter at @DanDent1.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or board of directors of either organization.