APR Profile: Sarah Grolnic-McClurg
The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is an esteemed credential in the communications industry, conducted by PRSA. To shine a light on the APR, we're kicking off a series of APR Profiles to offer a glimpse into those who've mastered the craft.
The APR credential certifies your drive, professionalism, and principles, setting you apart from your peers and positioning you as a leader and mentor in the competitive public relations field.
To start, please meet Sarah Grolnic-McClurg, APR. As principal and owner of Pounce PR, Sarah is a media relations and social media maven. She’s a pragmatic pro with experience spanning more than 20 years. Based in Berkeley, Calif., Pounce PR provides a steady, select roster of clients with high level partnering for meaningful PR results.
Let's dive in!
Tell us about yourself and your professional life.
I’ve been an independent PR professional for more than 20 years with my company, Pounce! PR. I struck out on my own after working in agencies and in-house and have never looked back. I’m high-energy and a self-starter with a knack for persuasion, so it’s been a nice fit and a rewarding experience, professionally and personally.
I love my work with clients—getting to know their needs, who they are and how I can best help them with their external and internal communication, reputation and visibility. I form close working relationships with clients: My longest standing client at the moment is going on 14 years and the second one by tenure is 10. To find out more about me and what I do, visit www.pounce-pr.com.
When and why did you decide to pursue an APR?
I earned mine in July of 1997 and have the certificate framed in my office! At that point, it was a chance to solidify my credentials in the field and dig into the profession in a more formal way. I’m a student by nature—always learning, curious and slightly academic—so I was thirsty for the knowledge and craved more expertise.
Practically speaking, I had the time to do the classes, the reading and the work. And my employer at the time encouraged it and paid for it. Thank you, Mount Holyoke College!
How was your experience? Any particulars you can share?
From working with our chapter in San Francisco during the past decade on APR-related activities, I know the process has really changed since I earned my APR. That said, my experience was really positive. I enjoyed learning the history of the field, the APR’s PR methodology, and getting together with peers in a room to go through the material.
There was a warm feeling of colleagues striving together, under the wisdom of mentors in the field who wanted us to succeed. I appreciated the camaraderie and support as well as the fact that everything was pretty clear-cut in terms of what we needed to do.
How was the preparation/study process? What was your prep strategy?
I’m a grinder, so I studied for it like I would any academic test and did all the homework. The regular classes and clearly defined curriculum kept me on target. I fretted most about presenting my case study and worked on that quite a bit.
What effect has it had on your career? Your confidence? Skillset?
I’m not sure if the credential itself ever made a difference in terms of landing a client, but I was proud to earn it at the time. And every three years, I maintain it because of the meaning it still packs for me. The APR training provided a wider aperture on the field that has definitely made me more confident. PR can be a murky space with many different operators, specialties and points of view; the APR experience gave me grounding, boosting my ability to wrap my arms around the field as a professional.
What should other PR practitioners know about the accreditation, those seeking it, considering it and those just learning about it?
You’ll find a lot of support from PRSA and the chapter if you decide to go for the APR, and the program is a useful way to learn about your profession. Make sure it’s at a time in life when you have the bandwidth to take on a commitment. It will take up a chunk of your focus during the preparation period. The rest will take care of itself since the program is structured and supported. The pace makes the material digestible, and you’ll meet motivated people like yourself along the way. There’s no big secret to earning it and no tricks pulled to foul you up—it’s a straightforward process.
Anything else to share?
I would definitely recommend getting your APR if it’s something you’re thinking of doing, you have the motivation to take it on and have the time. I find that people often feel very intimidated by it and would like to dispel that myth! It’s doable. If you have the time and inclination, go for it.