PRAM State, VP of Accreditation
He has plowed under a profitable cornfield to build a baseball diamond for Shoeless Joe Jackson and a team of ghostly baseball greats. Yet he’s denied entry to the magical place where the players disappear each evening.
“What do you mean I’m not invited?” says Ray. “That’s my corn out there. You guys are guests in my corn. I’ve done everything I was asked to do. I didn’t understand it, but I’ve done it. I haven’t once asked what’s in it for me.”
“What are you saying, Ray?” asks Shoeless Joe.
“I’m saying,” Ray replies a bit sheepishly. ‘What’s in it for me?”
I love that scene because it says a lot about human nature. When we confront a challenge, we expect something special in return. So in my role as VP of Accreditation for PRAM, I’m hoping to encourage new applicants with real-life examples of the benefits of an APR.
Here’s what accredited professionals across the state say they’ve gained from “going the distance.”
- Confidence and expertise. Long before he was CEO of GodwinGroup, Philip Shirley was a young PR guy with no academic background in the field. So he immediately saw the value of getting accredited. “I began studying as a way to force myself to learn the craft,” he said. “Two major factors from that study changed the course of my career in critically important ways. First, the sense of accomplishment gave me the confidence to make difficult decisions that would impact my employer’s success. But perhaps more importantly, the study forced me to learn the discipline of public relations along with the processes, procedures and ethical guidelines that have served me for 40 years.”
- Credibility and respect. As communications director for Horne LLP, Kassi Rushing works among accounting professionals with plenty of initials behind their names. So she knew becoming certified in her own field would engender respect. “I work in an industry that is heavily regulated, licensed and accredited,” she said. “Earning my APR was the signal that I, too, was operating at the highest level within my area of expertise. I’m completely convinced that without my APR, I’d never have been in the position to write my own job description at Horne. The APR allowed me to position myself as qualified and prepared.”
- Professional camaraderie. About 5,000 PR practitioners in the U.S. are accredited in public relations. And joining this elite group signifies you’re on the same plane with people who see the APR designation as the calling card of a consummate professional. “Having been accredited since 1992, I can tell you that when dealing with PR professionals across the U.S., it evokes both commonality and credibility,” says Donna Richey, GodwinGroup senior partner and chief strategy officer. “It helps you position to the next level and it is worth the time.”
- An advantage in the job search. After nearly 30 years in PR at a Fortune 500 company, Checky Herrington began a new job search. And he quickly realized he needed a way to stand out in a crowded field. “Almost every application included a section about certifications and accreditations, which I did not have,” he said. “Despite many successful years in public relations, I saw a real need for a designation that would help me rise above the competition. The APR challenged the way I have done things and brought me face-to-face with some of the best thinking in my field.” As for the job search … Checky is now a marketing research analyst for the Office of Public Affairs at Mississippi State University.
- Promotions, recognition and paycheck payoffs. When you’re at a PR conference, take a closer look at the people sporting APR on their badges. Are they PR directors? Workshop presenters? The people being recognized at the awards banquet? An APR designation often influences the selection of all of the above, so it’s a great way to get recognized—and financially rewarded. One study found that accredited PR professionals make about 20 percent more than non-accredited peers.
Convinced you want to be part of the APR team? To learn more, go to www.praccreditation.org or contact me, at firstname.lastname@example.org.