How good do you want to be?
How much respect do you want? How much influence do you hope to exert within your company, your profession, or your community?
If you’re content to be the functionary who’s left in your cubicle while all the important decisions are being made elsewhere, then there’s very little I or anybody else can do for you. I just wish you’d call yourself something besides a PR professional so people don’t confuse you with the profession I love and practice.
Here’s the thing: You don’t have to settle for that. Public relations, when properly practiced, provides you the platform to develop and demonstrate skills, judgment and wisdom that will get you into the important meetings and give you a voice at the top levels of your organization.
You can be the one the CEO calls on when decisions are being made affecting your company’s customers, employees, shareholders or other key stakeholders. The one who can build comprehensive plans that integrate tightly with the company’s budgets and core business strategies.
How do you get there? It’s a lifelong pursuit, but a critical step is earning your Universal Accreditation. That APR behind your name tells your colleagues, clients and bosses that you mean business.
Getting it takes a lot of work. You can’t even apply until you’ve been practicing public relations for five years. Then you have to prepare for and take a test. A tough one.
Let me tell you a few things about that test. It doesn’t give a rat’s poop pile if you have a great smile and wear expensive suits. It doesn’t care if you’re locally famous and everybody’s seen you on TV. It doesn’t care if you have 20 years of experience. It only cares if you’re prepared and have the right answers.
I get angry when I hear people say, “Someone with your experience can probably pass it without even studying.” Funny thing is, I’ve never heard anybody with an APR behind their name say that. The APR process addresses a specific body of knowledge, and a lot of that knowledge is counter intuitive. You can’t guess your want through it. Common sense won’t get you there, either. You either know it or you don’t.
I’ve seen a lot of people who decided to self-prepare. Most of them fail. Smart people with long resumes and good reputations. The reality is that the best way to get your APR is with help from people who’ve been there and can help show you the way.
For the second straight year, Ashley Fulmer and I have agreed to be accreditation co-chairs for the Alabama chapter. We completely changed the approach to recruiting and training candidates last year, and we had good results. We’ll be building on that in 2016, and if you want to take this important step, we need to hear from you soon.
So I’ll ask you one more time: How good do you want to be?