Public Relations Tactics

Where Accreditation Is a Family Affair

April 1, 2014

Sydney Ayers, APR, Fellow PRSA and Rendall Ayers, APR, Fellow PRSA
Sydney Ayers, APR, Fellow PRSA and Rendall Ayers, APR, Fellow PRSA

In honor of APR Month, Tactics talked to three families with Accredited members:

Rendall Ayers, APR, Fellow PRSA, Ayers Public Relations, Golden, Colo.

Why did you decide to take the exam?

It didn’t take much to sell me on the need to sit for Accreditation. I had done some part-time work in my father’s PR firm while in college and during an early-career newspaper job. Accreditation had been expected of me when I went into public relations and I knew that someday I would earn the designation.

What was your reaction when Sydney wanted to become Accredited?

As a parent, it’s always an honor when a child decides to follow in your footsteps. I was extremely proud when Sydney became Accredited. It also made me a proud parent when she was elected president of the Colorado Chapter, became chair of the Counselors Academy and became involved in many other important PRSA activities.

What do you see as the benefits of being Accredited?

I like to go back to the basics once in a while. I question what it is I’m doing, why I am doing it and how it can be done better. Anybody who successfully sits for Accreditation will learn that a pause for such inquisitiveness is absolutely required. It also benefits our profession because it improves the daily work we do and enhances credibility and respect.

Sydney Ayers, APR, Fellow PRSA, Ayers Public Relations, Golden, Colo.

Were you inspired to pursue the APR designation, in part, because of your father?

I grew up in the industry with both my father and grandfather being active in PRSA. My grandfather was among those who founded the Colorado Chapter and he served as its first president. One of my earliest memories of my dad’s involvement in the Society was hosting an Accreditation study session at our house when I was still just a kid. He later came to lecture for an entry-level journalism class of mine at Colorado State University and solidified my desire to enter the profession. Once that decision was made, there never was a question about earning my APR. I sat for it as soon as I was eligible — the same holds true for the College of Fellows.

Did he offer any advice along the way?

He was particularly helpful in preparing me for the personal interviews that accompanied the written test. He was — and continues to be — my most reliable sounding board for PR programming ideas and professional ethics.

What are the benefits of being Accredited?

Many of those outside our profession equate the whole of public relations to just one or two associated tactics such as media relations, special events, community outreach or content development.

The APR designation is critical to being able to elevate the conversation above the tactical level and help people understand that the practice of public relations is much more than just its parts. Accreditation stands alone as the way for employers, clients and others to determine a practitioner’s commitment to the profession, best practices and ethical standards.

Deborah S. Saline, APR, Fellow PRSA and Bob Saline, APR, Fellow PRSA
Deborah S. Saline, APR, Fellow PRSA and Bob Saline, APR, Fellow PRSA

Bob Saline, APR, Fellow PRSA, PR Works, Inc., Camp Hill, Pa.

Why did you decide to take the exam?

I had been working in a corporate position for some 15 years. I wanted to be more of a strategist and had heard so much about the APR coaching process. I was also thinking of making a change from corporate to being an independent counselor and, by this time, I knew that an APR would help me make that transition from corporate to consultant.

Who decided to become Accredited first? Did you inspire your spouse to do so?

A local peer, Fred Leuschner, APR, Fellow PRSA, was a major inspiration for advanced career planning through the APR process. My most influential inspiration in both life and career has been my wife Deborah. Through her initial contacts in PRSA, I got my first job after serving in the military. Her contacts led me to a positive 20-year corporate career with a phone company.

As I was thinking of becoming an independent counselor, we both knew that the APR would add to my credibility. As you might expect, Deborah later became my inspiration to seek my Fellow PRSA designation when she became the first of us to reach this personal achievement.

Deborah S. Saline, APR, Fellow PRSA, PR Works, Inc., Camp Hill, Pa.

Why did you decide to take the exam?

I realized that while my years in public relations were adding up, I didn’t feel that I had matured professionally. Sometimes I don’t always do the right things for the right reason. I felt that if I just had those three letters, APR, after my name, that would do it. So I pursued Accreditation. As a woman in the 1980s, I wanted to show that I could run with the big dogs. Of course, with this mindset, I did not pass the first time.

The process, however, was not in vain. By studying, and failing, I had quite the ah-ha moment. I’ve never ceased to be amazed: What I learned in preparing to take and pass the examination the second time has stayed with me for the rest of my career. By mastering the knowledge, skills and abilities demanded in our profession, I moved forward and upward.

Would you recommend the APR process to others?

Anyone can say he or she is a PR person. As the economy and the media world turn over on their heads, a lot of people are seeking PR careers. Professional PR practitioners are in demand. The only way to demonstrate that you are a true PR professional is to earn the APR credential.

Blake D. Leris, APR, Fellow PRSA and Amanda Lewis Hill, APR, MBA
Blake D. Lewis, APR, Fellow PRSA and Amanda Lewis Hill, APR, MBA

Amanda Lewis Hill, APR, MBA, Lewis Public Relations, Dallas

Why did you decide to take the exam?

When I started my career, I set a handful of professional goals for myself, and Accreditation neared the top of the list. The PR profession is crowded. I wanted to earn my Accreditation as a way to elevate my personal brand. I completed a few other goals first —working at an international agency and getting my MBA — before starting the process. With about five years under my belt, it was a natural next step for me.

Were you inspired to pursue the APR designation, in part, because of your father?

My dad inspired me to pursue Accreditation. He has been an advocate for the APR for as long as I can remember. Even before I knew this was my chosen career, I understood the value of the credential and how it sets professionals apart. He never pressured me to earn the credential, but he supported my decision. He gave advice and guidance as I asked for it, serving as one of my mentors along the way.

Did he offer any advice along the way?

My dad has always encouraged me to be prepared and go at everything with gusto. So, as I prepared for my Readiness Review, he provided feedback and gave me things to consider for both my questionnaire and presentation. When I felt that a draft was ready, he always had a few more suggestions for improvement. Before taking the examination, he kept me grounded and reminded me to pay extra attention to the highest-weighted KSAs. Pacing was important, he said, and it was true. His advice definitely ran through my head as I took the exam.

Blake D. Lewis, APR, Fellow PRSA, Lewis Public Relations, Dallas

Why did you decide to take the exam?

As my career path morphed into broader and more strategic PR responsibilities, I felt the need for deeper capabilities. The Accreditation exam provided the venue for an intentional program of self-study.

What was your reaction when Amanda wanted to become Accredited?

Knowing her inherent desire for excellence, I wasn’t surprised. Amanda has witnessed me in a number of PRSA volunteer positions surrounding Accreditation and knows that I only volunteer for causes and initiatives that I support. She saw APR as a value to her career path and professional development.

What are the benefits of being Accredited?

The process — from the career endeavors that set the stage and the Readiness Review through the actual examination and subsequent maintenance of activities — provides another important professional benchmarking opportunity. In a world where lifelong learning is increasingly valued, the process of earning and maintaining Accreditation signals that you are significantly and personally invested in your career and future.



Marisa Vallbona, APR, Fellow PRSA says:

This piece makes me proud to be an APR. I can only imagine how I'd feel if either of my sons entered the profession and earned their APRs. Il'l live vicariously through these families. Amanda Lewis Hill, APR, MBA, I'm cheering you on all the way to the PRSA College of Fellows!

April 3, 2014

Amanda Lewis Hill, MBA, APR says:

Thanks, Marisa! I have some great mentors to help me get there. This is such a neat example of the APR's lasting legacy. We are proud to be included.

April 5, 2014

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