Experienced PR professional Dianna Fornaro, who earned her APR this past August, says she “could see the value in studying for the APR almost immediately.” Read all about Dianna’s journey below.
When did you undertake your course of study for the APR? What or who inspired you to take on this rigorous course of study? Did you have a mentor or someone who encouraged you to keep going, to follow through to the end?
I started the process back in August of 2016 and completed it exactly one year later, in August 2017. There are two parts to getting your APR: (1) the Panel Presentation, where you present a PR campaign to at least three APRs, and (2) the 4-hour computer-based exam (CBE). To prepare for the CBE, I took the APR online study course and participated in two online study groups with other professionals from across the U.S. We used social media to share practice scenarios and offer each other support. I also received support from several colleagues, including Dan Dunne, Tracy Imm and Jen Kellar, who are all APRs and active in PRSA Maryland. And I received support from my managers, Jim Taylor and Donna Wilson. The PRSA Maryland Chapter President, Claudia Ciolfi, was rooting for me the whole time, too!
As a mid-career communications professional, what unique rewards and benefits did you see in pursuing your APR?
I could see the value in studying for the APR almost immediately. The more I studied, the more strategic I became when approaching my work. I started thinking much more critically about tactics, too. For example, when someone said: “We need a video,” I found myself asking, “Why do we need a video? Is this the best way to get our message across? What is the strategy behind this video?” Also, I am now better able to consult on such things as ethics, copyright law and many other communications areas.
As a newly accredited professional, how do you see the APR as either changing or enhancing the trajectory of your professional career or perhaps even your choice of your volunteer commitments?
I joined the PRSA Maryland Board of Directors this year. This is something I don’t think I would have felt equipped to do had I not been studying for the APR at the time. Joining the board allowed me the opportunity not only to exercise my leadership skills, but also to meet some great new people! So, yes, the APR definitely contributed to my volunteer work.
What else would you like to share? What’s the one thing anyone thinking about pursuing the APR should know?
I would love to see other PRSA Maryland members go for their APR! I believe it lends credibility to our work as PR and communications professionals, and it really does elevate the profession. It does take a certain amount of focus and self-discipline, but it’s certainly worthwhile.
Congratulations to Dianna on getting her APR!
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What is your hometown? Scranton, Pennsylvania, now; but, I grew up in Waverly, Pennsylvania – a small town about 15 minutes outside of Scranton.
Where did you go to college? Towson University
How would you say your PRSA membership is of benefit to you? My PRSA membership has allowed me to learn from and work with some of the best PR professionals in the area. I like being part of an organization that encourages its members to make meaningful connections and hosts events with practical educational components.
Do you have any personal or professional role models? I’ve always looked up to female swimming athletes like Natalie Coughlin and Janet Evans. You need a tremendous amount of physical and emotional strength and tenacity to be a swimmer, and those are skills that easily translate to the business world – especially a small business.
What are some of your interests/passions? I am passionate about all things swimming and reading. I used to teach swimming lessons, and it was so rewarding (and fun) to watch “my” kids grow. I also enjoy baking and binging shows on Netflix.
How can PRSA Maryland members connect with you? Email is best at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s probably the most reliable way to get in touch with me. I hardly ever check my messages on LinkedIn . . . .