The Golden Ticket

I was very lucky to have Samra (Sam) Jones Bufkins as a member of my Readiness Review panel. Sam was greatly encouraging and candid about areas I needed to improve. This year, she has lit the way for those contemplating an APR. In response to last week’s Dallas PRSA Communications Summit, Sam sent this email to perspective APR candidates. Sam has consented to post her message on this blog. Thank you!

Hi, y’all–it was great to see so many of you at Friday’s Communicators Summit. For those of you who couldn’t make it, attached are the handouts from the APR session.

Based on feedback from the group, the major theme I hear from APR prospects is "When will I have the time to do this?" So, in the spirit of blogging here are my thoughts.

If we are committed to something, we MAKE the time, whether it’s getting a master’s degree, redecorating the house, training for a triathlon, or getting our APR. I look at the things I want to do, and realize that the time spent procrastinating, avoiding, and making excuses for why I can’t do them would probably be enough time to lay out a plan and START doing them.

(How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!) When we have multiple commitments at work, we prioritize–isn’t that usually a box checked off in the performance appraisal? And Oprah and Dr. Phil and others tell us we should do it in our personal life, too–prioritize. Sometimes prioritizing means putting something on the back burner for the time being. So, I’ll ask you all to take a realistic look at your personal and professional life and see where getting your APR really does fit into your priorities. That should be the first step in your plan.

Plan–yes, we’re communicators, and we all work within the framework of plans every day. Set out a plan for your APR study. Try this–go to

, click on "Become an APR" and download the Readiness Review Questionnaire. Schedule some time alone to complete that questionnaire as if you were doing it for real. You might also download the KSAs/Competencies tested as a guide while completing the questionnaire. You can’t do this in an hour–block out some time each day for as many days as it can take to complete it. Set a deadline, and reward yourself, if necessary. When you’re done with the questionnaire, let it rest for at least 24 hours, then revisit it with the KSAs and possibly the Readiness Review Score Sheet at hand. Give yourself a really honest critique. Then give it (and the KSAs,

etc.) to a trusted APR to review and comment on. I don’t know anybody with their APR who isn’t willing to help–you can pick one you know, pick one at random from the membership directory, or let me know and I’ll find you a mentor. So many of you ask if this experience "counts" or worry that your past experience is appropriate. Worrying won’t change anything, so channel that worry into positive energy and self-assessment–completing the questionnaire will clear up a lot of your concerns, help you identify areas you need to work on, and guide you in your plan to become an APR.

After you’ve done this initial, personal assessment of your readiness, lay out your plan for the next steps.

That could be to pull together a portfolio that illustrates the questionnaire, send in your application fee to the Universal Accreditation Board, and schedule a readiness review with the chapter APR chair. You may also decide that you need more experience in a particular area and ask for more responsibility at work, or volunteer for a non-profit organization that needs your help. You could also sign up for the online course and take that to brush up on terminology and skills–some people do that before the readiness review, others find it more valuable after. Find a study buddy (I can help you there, too) and start an informal study group with one or more of the recommended texts. There are a lot of options at that point, but the advantage of doing this exercise NOW is that you’ll get past the first hurdle without eating into the one year time frame that starts with your application to the UAB. You’ll feel more confident in your readiness, and more focused on what you need to do next.

Reace said it best in her talk about recently taking the APR exam–it’s a big elephant, so pick a bite and go for it.

I’m here for you, so don’t hesitate to yell any time you have questions or concerns. I really, really want to see each of you an APR, hopefully by this time next year. I truly believe that is possible, too.


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  • Laura Van Hoosier, APR

    Good for you, Lauren. I’m so glad you have Samra supporting you. You will do super and earn that APR. Good luck to you!