The Value of APR; Timeless for any season of practice

APR 50th Anniversary Logo Outlineshogan

By Karen M. Hogan, APR

I hadn’t intentionally put off attaining my APR.  Not at all – in fact, it’s never too late to make a go of it.  It’s just that life happened along the way.

Now, as I embark on my 25th year of public relations practice and reflect on all of its real-world learnings, I can honestly say the value of an APR is not only timeless, but relevant at any age or stage of practice.

What took so long, anyway?

As a Michigan State University J-school grad with a magazine editing emphasis, my transition to PR happened by osmosis. I was thrilled to land a job with the Chevrolet-Pontiac-Canada Group (CPC) of General Motors Co., editing the company’s “magapaper.”  My office was tucked away inside CPC’s PR department.  When magazine deadlines were met, I found time to learn about my PR co-workers’ doings – from writing executive speeches to exploring new ways to inform employees of breaking news (yes, way before the birth of social media!).

A few years and several magazines later, I made a personal move to Grand Rapids, joining a fast-growing PR agency, SeyferthPR, founded by Ginny Seyferth, APR.  It was my first employ as an account executive, and forever halted my journalist identity.

Those early PR agency years were a wonderful baptism by fire, as a degree in PR was few and far between.  “What is this `APR’ you speak of?,” I often asked.  I knew those three letters had significance, but my interests were elsewhere, as I was taking graduate courses at Grand Valley State University working toward a Master’s Degree in Communications.

All this would change with my first pregnancy.  I paused on my studies and full-time agency work and instead opted for a 13-year journey as a home-based freelance writer, contracting with SeyferthPR, Amway and a host of other clients.  As life would have it, my eldest son developed Type 1/juvenile diabetes, so a home-based business became a necessity.

Life happens.

As my two sons morphed into young adults and other changes were afoot, it was time to return to the workforce, and what better landing than SeyferthPR.  In 1996, I rejoined, jumping in with gusto.  My work included helping to open the American Cancer Society’s new Hope Lodge. I did NOT know at the time that a cancer of its own was growing inside me.

Fast forward another few years, and I am currently celebrating 6 ½ years cancer-free.  My illness has been an incredible teacher of humility and adversity; I bask in my social justice/non-profit PR work.  After reaching the all-important 5-year cancer-free milestone in 2012, and even receiving a promotion to vice president along the way to recovery, it was time to set some new personal and professional goals, including attaining that coveted APR.

In 2012, I became a partner in the firm and in 2013, I went after my APR and also laced up for an extensive training program to complete a personal goal – my first half-marathon.  Much like the steps of a successful PR program, all goals – personal or professional – require upfront research, planning, and constant monitoring and adjustment for the best results.  While you may not hit home runs on everything, the first step is finding the courage to get into the game.

With a New Year of possibilities in front of each of us, consider attaining your APR as a realistic professional goal.   You will not regret it; this I promise.  Because Life Indeed Happens.

Now about that Master’s degree….oh wait, that will have to come after my fall 2015 WEDDING!

With one year of APR certification under my belt, its value has not gone unnoticed among colleagues, clients, and others.  It has given me a new sense of confidence and level of leadership in my work and support of the PRSA community.  Earlier this year, the tables were turned with ME as one of three judges assessing a local candidates’ APR exam readiness, and in January, I will begin mentoring a local group of APR candidates as they commit to the APR journey in 2015.  Consider joining us!  Send me an email at

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