Lack of Brains Hinders Research

Yes, this was an actual headline for a question on the APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) exam to define one of Lippmann’s barriers to communication.  (The answer is: Distortion due to compression).

When I started my blog last fall, I had intended to write more about the process of studying for the APR exam. Instead, I found my passion in writing about social media, crisis communications and current events.

Now that I have earned my APR, I am both relieved and excited to join this elite group of public relations professionals. Here are my lessons learned for the successful completion of the APR readiness review and computer examination process.

  1. Be ready to make the commitment to read a lot (study guide, text books, articles, case studies) and to exercise the APR knowledge, skills and abilities in hypothetical scenarios.
  2. Form a study group. You can meet in person or chat online (e.g. Google Chat). Invite APRs to your study sessions. Talk through every scenario in the study guide and your own case studies. Deconstruct case studies and rebuild them.
  3. Embrace communications theory. It had been years since I thought seriously about diffusion theory and the Grunig models of activating publics. These and other theoretical concepts have helped make sense of the confusion surrounding social media, for example.
  4. Become familiar with research and measurement, as related to objectives. Unfortunately, many PR campaigns often do not have sufficient budget for pre and post research or measurement.  Yet, these topics are a significant portion of the exam. Study up, and you’ll find new ways of thinking about how to incorporate research and measurement into your job with no or little budget.
  5. Improve your knowledge of business practices and ethics.  Experience is the best teacher in these areas. If you haven’t worked for a publicly traded company or faced the challenge of decision making, seek out colleagues who have.
  6. Don’t be daunted by the process. Sitting in front of a computer for 3 hours and 45 minutes was not as painful as I envisioned. There is plenty of time to read the questions, reflect on your answers and review if necessary.

By Tracy Schario Johnson, APR

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