As PR professionals find it harder and harder to gain employment in these tough times, many are asking themselves if going back to school for a master’s degree will make them more competitive or would APR accreditation be the better option. To help us answer this question, we’ve invited Laura Reilly, APR, to talk about her passion for learning during this month’s Brown Bag teleconference on April 30.
Laura is currently the director of communications for the Georgia School Boards Association. Laura is active with the Public Relations Society of America and is involved in the accreditation process with PRSA. In addition, Laura has earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in advertising and a Master of Journalism degree.
We spoke with Laura about some of her education decisions and asked her to share the experiences she’s gained from them.
1. How has obtaining a master’s degree benefited your career?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Advertising/Design and a Master of Journalism. The two disciplines have merged nicely during my career and assist greatly in all marketing and communications efforts.
2. How has obtaining APR accreditation benefited your career?
The song, “The Climb,” describes it nicely: It’s not about what’s on the other side, it’s about the climb. Earning and maintaining an APR can be a career-long experience. I learned a tremendous amount about public relations through the process and I continue to benefit greatly through my involvement as an APR panelist and the maintenance process.
3. What lessons have you learned during your career and how did you gain this knowledge?
I’ve learned many, but one that resonates continually is that we have to listen first in order to be heard. That applies to the practice of public relations in that we must do research first before committing to a plan of action. I used to be much more subtle in suggesting this to my bosses, etc., but today I’m very assertive about this belief. Engaging stakeholders in the process can be scary, but it is always worthwhile. I learned this first through graduate school and the APR process, and then by watching the negative consequences when this is not done.
4. Why did you decide to further your education?
As an advertising design specialist, I watched others in the agency business formulate entire communications and marketing strategies. I wanted to be at that level of the decision making process.
5. Why did you decided to get accredited in PR?
It is always important to continue learning. I engaged in the APR process after I had five years experience and it was perfect timing. Going through the process helped me recognize that we’re never through learning from others. I don’t care who you are and how long you’ve been doing this work, if you open yourself up to it you can continually experience new aspects of our profession.
Laura Reilly, APR will be instructing our New Pros of PRSA Brown Bag teleconference, “Master’s Degree vs. APR” on April 30, 2010 at 2pm EST. To register, click here.