Keep learning: 10 tips for maintaining your APR
What seemed like a short time after I earned my Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential in June 2011, I received a letter from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) informing me it was time to be re-accreditated. I just went through this process for the second time at the end of last year.
The old saying rings true throughout life, and especially for APRs – you never stop learning.
What is APR maintenance?
Just as athletes continue to train, public relations professionals need to continue sharpening their skills. As our profession and the media wold keeps evolving, we can’t afford to be left behind.
APR maintenance ensures we don’t. This process of ongoing professional development keeps you at the forefront of the field.
Every three years, an APR is required to complete a certain amount of professional development activities in three categories:
- Continuing Education
- Public Service
Each activity receives a point value. An APR must earn at least 10 points in the three-year maintenance period, with five coming strictly from Continuing Education.
In honor of APR Month this and every April, I’m sharing ways to earn your points.
- Get your master’s degree
My last renewal was simple. Since I had obtained my master’s degree in the maintenance cycle, I was automatically re-accredited. No 10 points. No webinars needed.
- Earn a national award.
Along with earning your master’s degree, several nationally-recognized awards also carry more than just the honor; they also give an automatic re-accreditation. See the full list here.
- Publish a book.
Another way to gain automatic re-accreditation is to publish a book during the maintenance cycle. The book has to be in the field of public relations, and it can be self-published as long as it is officially published for print.
- Serve your local PRSA Chapter.
Getting your master’s, earning a nationally recognized award or publishing a book out of the picture? No worries. As a PRSA member, which you must be and continue to be to maintain your APR, there are several opportunities to earn points through leadership positions. For instance, if you serve as your chapter’s Accreditation chair, you receive three points in the Continuing Education category. Serve on a local chapter committee and get two points in the Professionalism category.
- Attend PRSA seminars.
Whether its on the national level or hosted by your local chapter, you can also earn Continuing Education points for taking part in seminars. If they are about public relations, you can also take them from other professional organizations or at your company.
Providing instruction either in the classroom about public relations or mentoring APR candidates can also earn points toward re-accreditation. During a maintenance cycle, I earned two points for serving as an online facilitator for the APR Study Course and another point for providing an APR review course for my local chapter, all in the Continuing Education category.
- Go pro-bono.
Providing work free of charge to a non-profit or charity can earn you points in the Public Service category. Work I’ve done in media relations for a youth soccer club and in social media for a medical non-profit would be examples.
- Write about what you know.
Each article you publish in a public relations journal, newspaper, magazine or newsletter earns you three points in the Continuing Education category. I had a blog post published in my local chapter’s newsletter for credit.
- Retake the online APR Study Course.
Not the easiest of tasks, but retaking the course as an APR will earn you four points in the Continuing Education category.
- Obtain another credential.
If you earn another advanced credential from any of the following organizations, you automatically gain your five maintenance points in the Continuing Education category:•Agricultural Relations Council•Asociación de Relacionistas Profesionales de Puerto Rico•Florida Public Relations Association•Maine Public Relations Council•National School Public Relations Association•Religion Communicators Council•Southern Public Relations Federation
How will you maintain your APR?
As with all of life, APRs never, nor should they, cease to learn new things. With APR maintenance, we’re sure to continue on a lifelong journey of professional development. What ways will you pursue to achieve your 10 points?