Back-to-School with WMPRSA

In this back-to-school season, it’s only appropriate to share news of our own WMPRSA board members hitting the books.  That’s right; Rick Jensen, board president, and Adam Russo, 2017 incoming president, have made the commitment to attain their APR (Accredited Public Relations Practitioner) certification.  We recently invited them to take a “study break” and share a bit about their APR adventure. 

Q1. Your PR career is on a roll – so why an APR?  What do you hope attaining your APR now in your career will provide, personally and professionally?

Rick Jensen (RJ): Most recently I completed my Master of Management degree after ten years in the industry of PR, and am committed to lifelong learning.  APR just seems like the next logical step in my career and is something I have always had my eye on since first graduating from GVSU with my undergrad in Public Relations.  After spending a few years out of college, a professional has a tendency to get rusty, and APR will hopefully be the oil can that keeps this pro on track!   

Rick Jensen

Rick Jensen

Adam Russo (AR): I am a big proponent of continuous learning and improvement.  I believe that each day, our skills are either improving or getting worse and that potential often exceeds realization.  As a business owner, the APR certification process is a way for me to sharpen my PR practice and ensure that I’m providing my clients with the absolute highest level of service.  

Adam Russo

Adam Russo

Q2. How will you prepare; are you organized and methodical, more of a “let’s wing it” or plan to revert back to college study tactics and burn the midnight oil?

RJ: I’m more of a ‘let’s wing it’ type of guy, although I already bought the book and started reading it.  So far it doesn’t seem that intimidating!  I’m only a few chapters in though…

AR: There are numerous resources available to prepare for the APR exam.  I plan to engage with the WMPRSA’s APR committee and other APR-certified colleagues for guidance.  Since they’ve already completed the process, I’ll be able to learn what worked for them, and what didn’t.   I also plan to prepare for the exam alongside current WMPRSA president and friend Rick Jensen.  I’m also looking forward to completing the certification with someone who I respect and enjoy working with.    

Q3. Tell us about your discernment process – how long have you been considering an APR certification?  What made you pull the trigger now and go for it now?

RJ: As president of West Michigan PRSA I take pride in our organization’s mission, vision, and values.  I have been considering APR for quite some time and believe in leading by example.  With no longer being involved in a graduate program it seems I have more time to study…and who doesn’t like studying?! Plus it’s a great season to spend some time in the hammock with a book – Fall is my favorite!   

AR: I’ve considered getting APR certified for a couple years.  However, preparing to serve as the WMPRSA president next year was a tipping point.

Q4. Excited? Nervous?  How are you mentally preparing?

RJ: I’m just plain old ready!  I say bring it!

AR: I’m always ready for a good challenge – so I’m looking forward to it.  

Q5. Advice for those considering their APR?

RJ: What are you waiting for?  Let’s do this together!  If Adam and I can do it, you can too!    

AR: Connect with someone from the WMPRSA APR committee or an APR-certified colleague.  They’ll be able to provide you with a first-hand account of what the process is like.  They’ll also be able to answer any questions you have and, perhaps, serve as a mentor along the way.  Remember, there is strength in numbers.  So consider finding a co-worker, friend or group to complete the process with.  Working with a team will allow you to hold each other accountable.  I believe investing in yourself is one of the best things you can do.  I encourage all West Michigan PR practitioners to join me in this journey.  After all, what do you have to lose?