Member Spotlight – Heather Teter, APR

Share a little background about yourself and your current position.
My name is Heather Teter, APR, and I work with the City of Tallahassee, FL. I’ve been employed with the City since February 2008. Currently, I serve as a Public Information Officer in the Communications Department.

How long had you been in PR when you decided to pursue your APR?
I decided to pursue my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) in 2014. At the time, I had been practicing public relations professionally for six years. In fall 2014, I began taking classes with the Capital Chapter’s Accreditation Chair and studying for the exam with a co-worker who had decided to pursue her APR, as well. The following spring I took the APR exam.

What motivated you to pursue the credential?
I’m a life-long learner and I felt it was time to continue my education. I had already earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree but was ready for a new challenge. I saw the APR readiness review and exam as that challenge. Not to mention, many of the PR professionals that I look up to had their APR designation. I felt it was time to earn mine.

What challenges did you find when initially getting started in the process? 
The biggest challenge was just making the commitment. Once I had made the commitment, I resolved myself to learning and studying. For a year prior, I had contemplated pursuing my APR but came up with every excuse not to. Too busy. Too focused on other things, etc. Once I told myself that I was going to do it, I did it. I found time. I focused. I made the commitment and just did it. That was the hardest part, just making the commitment.

How did you feel the process helped you in your knowledge base of public relations?
Going into the APR process, I thought I knew quite a bit between my degrees and years of experience. But, boy, was I surprised. A lot of what you learn is practical applications of PR and marketing practices. My favorite part of the process was reviewing all the case studies. I liked seeing how PR professionals had handled situations in the past and then contemplating what those professionals did right and what they did wrong.

You have had your APR for several years now. How do you think this has helped you in your day-to-day work activity?
When you get into the habit of reviewing case studies, you start to look at your own work and contemplate what you did right and wrong. Nowadays, I take a pause and evaluate before suggesting strategies. I think to myself, “if this situation was a case study, would I be suggesting good or bad strategies? Am I handling this situation the correct way?” I think the whole APR process makes you a better strategizer. Is that a word? I’m making it a word. ;)  For all the grammar gurus, it makes you more strategic-minded.

How do you think this positions you now as a public relations professional?
I think having my APR makes me more competitive. Plus, I’m in a position to pursue my CPRC (Certified Public Relations Counselor) now when I’m ready.

If you had advice for someone considering their APR, what would it be?
Just do it. Take that first step and talk to your Accreditation Chair. Don’t let your brain make up excuses about why you can’t pursue your APR. Take a cue from Nike and just do it.