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Akron and Cleveland PRSA Chapters Will Offer APR Prep Classes This Fall

by Nora Jacobs, APR
Accreditation Chair

Have you been thinking about going for your APR?

The APR – Accredited in Public Relations – is awarded to individuals who have gone through a rigorous process to demonstrate their mastery of the knowledge, skills and experience unique to the public relations profession.  It consists of two steps: successfully sitting for a Panel Presentation (a one to two- hour meeting with a panel of APR colleagues to discuss your work in the profession) and passing a computerized exam focused on the topics and issues our industry deals with every day.

If getting your APR has been on your personal and professional bucket list, you’ll want to know that the Akron and Greater Cleveland PRSA chapters will be teaming up to offer a series of classes this fall specifically designed to prepare candidates for the APR testing process.  Classes will focus on the subjects that form the backbone of the computerized exam and provide guidance on preparing the questionnaire and case study that serve as the centerpiece for the Panel Presentation.  Classes are free to chapter members and only require the purchase of one textbook.

Marcus Thomas has graciously agreed to allow us to host our classes at its offices just off of I-271 at 4781 Richmond Road.  Each class will begin at 4:30 p.m. and end at roughly 6:30.  We’ve scheduled classes for four Thursdays in September and October as follows:

  • September 12
  • September 26
  • October 10
  • October 24

Classes will be led by Nora Jacobs APR and Christian Hunter APR. If you want more information, or would like to join us this fall as you prepare to take your APR, contact Nora at (216-321-7774), or Christian at (216-470-0623).

PRSA Cleveland & Akron Chapters Rejuvenate APR Classes

by Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA

Is obtaining your APR on your career “bucket list?”  You may have heard or thought that the preparation and studying process may be too hard, or confused by the requirements for the Readiness Review and the computerized exam.

Have no fear…

PRSA’s Cleveland and Akron Chapters are once again teaming up again this year to provide our members with a series of classes designed to help APR candidates prepare for both the review session and the computerized exam.  Our upcoming sessions will help candidates navigate the testing process specifically on the knowledge skills and abilities considered essential to achieving accreditation.

If you’re interested in learning more about accreditation, our introductory session will be held next month (in 3 weeks or so, but at a time mutually viable for all interested parties!) There is no fee to attend – any – of the classes. Please complete this online form.

In the first session, you’ll come away with:

  • An overview of the APR process
  • An understanding of the portfolio readiness review
  • Timeline for studying for the APR
  • Materials needed to succeed!

Based on interest, additional classes will be held 3-4 times throughout the summer, with our targeted goal to have the 2019 ‘class’ take their examination in early September.

Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is the mark of distinction for public relations professionals – a visible and ongoing commitment to the knowledge, ethics and experience that define the public relations industry in today’s fast-paced environment. Earning the APR is a noteworthy milepost in any PR professional’s career and a personal mark of achievement you can proudly add to your credentials.

Act now and make 2019 the year you get your APR!  Note that any member of the profession is welcome to sit for the APR exam, but at least five years of experience is recommended in order to best prepare for the range of questions that will be addressed in both the readiness review and computerized exam.

6 Accredited PR Pros on Why They Pursued Their APR (reprinted from PRsay)


“Having been a practitioner for 25 years, I had always wanted to apply for my APR, but never found time to do so. Last year, at a PRSA meeting, Stacey Sunday and I were approached about it by Professor Alison L. Gaulden from the University of Nevada-Reno. With her encouragement and support, we are both proud APRs!”

— Suzanne B. Hendery, MA, APR
Chief Marketing Officer and VP, Marketing and Communications, Renown Health
Reno, Nevada


“As an independent communications and PR consultant, I felt that pursuing my Accreditation in Public Relations was vital for the integrity of my practice and for demonstrating to clients that I can deliver faithfully on the services I offer.”

— Catherine Brozena, APR
Owner and Creative Director, ColorThisWorld Communications
Oakland, Calif.


“After 13 years of professional practice, I believed it was important to demonstrate my knowledge and credibility in the profession by earning Accreditation. PR practitioners have a responsibility to counsel their organizations with an ethics-based approach, and I believe Accreditation signals a practitioner’s commitment to sound public relations strategies and practice.”

— Emily Finley, APR
Senior Manager, Corporate Communications at Marvin Windows and Doors
St. Paul, Minn.


“In hindsight, during my ten-year career I was flying by the seat of my pants, so I decided to look for the discipline and skills I needed. I now have an unparalleled sense of confidence because I have the tools I need. I can better craft messages and coordinate activities that affect my organization’s relationships with its publics. By developing strategic PR plans, I can be assertive, better align campaigns with the corporate goals, and serve my organization proactively, effectively, and consistently.”

— Marcia Brookey, APR
VP and Director of Marketing, Trust Company of Oklahoma
Tulsa, Okla.


“I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Because I believe in what it stands for, I value APR Accreditation tremendously.”

— Christopher Eric Vadnais, APR
Public Affairs Officer, VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System
Murfreesboro, Tenn.


“As a broadcast journalist turned PR professional, I pursued my APR as a source of formal industry education. Earning my APR has made me more confident in my daily work and challenged my strategic approach from research to evaluation.”

— Allison Williams, APR
Internal Communications Specialist, Greater Nevada Credit Union
Reno, Nev.


Twenty-Two Years Later, My APR Continues to Pay Dividends

By Richard J. Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA

Public relations professionals who do not have their APR and do not intend to get the credential are often as passionate arguing against the need for it as those who have attained accreditation argue for it. These are not new positions in our field. Way back in 1995, when I decided to get my accreditation, such arguments were raging around me. Twenty-two years later, I am as pleased with my decision to earn the credential as I was the day I passed the tests.

One can be successful in our field without an APR, or a master’s degree, or even a degree in the academic disciplines most associated with the practice of public relations. I suppose there can be equally strong arguments for and against getting those credentials. My decision was not based on who had the better argument. I consider myself a lifelong learner because I want to be the best I can be in my profession. Any opportunity to enhance my skillset interests me, whether I can definitively prove a pocketbook ROI for my time and money.

Making the case more powerful for me was that an APR is not simply another professional development workshop or a one-time training program. An APR is a commitment to our profession and is distinguished from many other one-time learning opportunities because once the credential is earned, it must be maintained. I also wanted a competitive differentiator to give potential employers a tipping point to pick me over another candidate.

As with many learning experiences, I found the journey toward obtaining my APR a worthwhile ride. My study group was supportive (I am still in touch with many of them) and our professional advisor was encouraging. The test was challenging, but with the proper preparation, I found no surprises and passed on my first attempt. Had I not passed, I knew that supportive network that helped me prepare would be available to me for another attempt; that was reassuring.

I am a passionate member of PRSA, so in addition to the professional advantages I’ve experienced through my APR, I have also found the credential helpful as I ascended into various leadership roles in chapters, district and in national posts.

I am proud of my APR and encourage anyone considering earning the credential to go for it. I have never met anyone who regrets having taken this step.

© Keith Berr Productions, Inc.

Richard J. Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA has been practicing public relations for 30 years in Fortune 500, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

He is a member of PRSA’s National Board of Directors (representing the Greater Cleveland Chapter and the East Central District) and has served as an adjunct professor in Kent State University’s Master of Public Relations program.

The Importance of Professional Sections For PRSA Members

By Scott Tennant, APR, Vitamix

Whenever someone asks me about the worth of joining PRSA, I inevitably point to three things:

  • Staying current on best practices in the field, from strategy to execution to ethics
  • Earning (and maintaining) your APR accreditation
  • Interacting with peers through membership in a professional interest section

The first two are fairly standard parts of the PRSA value proposition, but the third sometimes gets short shrift. Of all the benefits I derive as a PRSA member, being part of the Corporate Communications section is the one that pays the most immediate dividends on a weekly – and even daily – basis.

Professional sections offer members access to specialized content and section-only networking and educational sessions. Some have section newsletters and/or online communities in which members discuss issues that pertain directly to their specific area of practice.

The Corporate Communications section comprises nearly 1,200 PR and communications practitioners who, as the section’s page on puts it, “are responsible for external communications and serve as the voice of their organization.” Over the years, I have had the chance to interact with many of them through the section’s online discussion forum.

When a section member posts a question or raises an issue of general interest in this forum, it goes to everyone in the group. In my case, that’s a digest email that arrives first thing each morning. Sometimes these posts are from members facing a specific communications challenge, asking how others have tackled it before. Others ask about topics ranging from members’ experiences with particular software packages or apps, to those seeking communications plan templates or messaging frameworks.

Whatever the query, members are more than willing to jump in and help each other. Sometimes there is disagreement, but it is handled in a spirit of cooperation and mutual edification. More than once I’ve gained valuable tips and insights from these discussions that were immediately applicable to my own practice.

Section membership also provides a unique channel for networking. When I attend the national conference each year, one of my favorite things is meeting in person those corporate communicators whom I had known previously only online. My communications network has been strengthened exponentially through section membership.

The cost of membership in a section is minimal when compared with the benefits. So the next time you renew with PRSA, give some thought to adding section membership to your overall package. I can almost guarantee that your section will quickly become one of the most beneficial parts of your PRSA experience.

3 Productive Things Students Can Do On Spring Break

By Rachel Dill, Digital Marketing Manager, Sweeney Marketing + PR

March is right around the corner, which means the count-down to spring break is on. For some, it means sandy beaches, cold drinks, and nice weather. But for those of you who will live vicariously through social media this year, there is an opportunity to use the time off to get ahead of the curve finding a job or internship. Here are three things you can do to make the most of your spring break at home!

1. Set-up in-person meetings with professionals. This is a great time to network in the city you want to work or intern. Reaching out to a few professionals to meet for an informational coffee, lunch or even a tour of their company is a great way to learn more about the profession and make a lasting impression.

2. Get certified. Certifications are a great way to stand out from other applicants and expand your skill set outside the classroom. One strategy for doing this is to look at postings for jobs you would love to have in the future and identify certifications in the areas those jobs require experience. There are plenty of free online certifications, just be sure it’s a credible source such as Google, HubSpot, etc.

3. Attend networking events and industry association meetings. Industry associations and networking events are a great resource for meeting professionals from different companies and learning more about your industry. Most organizations are happy to let a student sit in on meetings or attend events. In the case that no events are taking place the week of your spring break, reach out to a leader in the organizations you’re interested in and ask for an informational phone or in-person meeting to talk about it.

Sporting flip-flops for seven days on the sandy beaches of Florida is a great way to celebrate spring break, but gearing yourself for the right career will enable you to hit more beaches after you graduate. Think ahead, plan ahead and get ahead.