PRCA Mobile Gains a New Accredited Public Relations Professional

By Wes Phillips, APR with Amanda Young, APR

Amanda Young, PRCA Mobile 2022 board president and marketing and communications manager at Feeding the Gulf Coast, recently achieved APR status and became the chapter’s most recent accredited public relations professional.  

Amanda’s work with Feeding the Gulf Coast during the COVID 19 pandemic offers a unique perspective on the profession and the APR credential. Accreditation is a process that validates a candidate’s knowledge and expertise in the public relations profession. Earning an APR asserts professional competence and reflects a personal and professional dedication to the practice of public relations. 

Congratulations Amanda! Tell us about the experience. 

Covid 19 has had a significant impact on Feeding the Gulf Coast as demand for the organization’s services increased. Has your perspective on the role of public relations changed over the past 18 months given the impact of Covid 19 on Feeding the Gulf Coast, and do you see a connection between lessons learned from the APR process and the expectations of the public relations role in the organization? 

AY: The pandemic disrupted life for everyone. People faced economic challenges from a myriad of situations. Food banks across the country experienced a surge of demand from individuals seeking food assistance. 

Early in the pandemic, Feeding the Gulf Coast had to shift into what we consider disaster response mode, typically implemented following a large-scale Hurricane within our 24-county service area. Everything escalated quickly. The Friday that Gov. Ivey declared a state of emergency, I watched the Montgomery area news while visiting family. They highlighted the impact on children who would miss school meals during the closure. I knew that we needed to have an answer for this. I was able to get in touch with leadership, and that weekend started tweeting out responses to a reporter in our area. The following week, we kept the narrative relevant with interviews, and we remained a source of content for reporters throughout the pandemic. 

Reputation matters, and there was a national spotlight on food banks’ work to address the pandemic. The role of public relations is multi-faceted, as is food banking. There’s a constant balance between planning and responding; and remaining flexible in the process. 

The APR journey has taught me a lot about not only responding quickly, but remaining aware of trends, research, and having a plan in place that is backed by solid goals and research. 

How have you managed the workload demands of the APR process while also completing graduate level courses? Any tips on time management for PR professionals? 

The key is to focus on the long game. Deciding I wanted to pursue accreditation was a key motivator that led me to go back to school. Accreditation helped me gain a greater appreciation for learning and remaining committed to the profession. Thankfully, most of my graduate classes helped me study for accreditation and vice versa.

What’s the most rewarding component of the APR process?

Connecting with mentors. My background is graphic design, yet I ended up in a marketing/communications role. Through the APR process, I have made friends and learned from some of the best in the field. Accreditation has given me the confidence to know that even with a different background, I can still make informed decisions every day in my job.

What was the first thing that came to mind when you learned you passed the APR exam and that you had successfully completed the process?

Honestly, “Thank God, that test was brutal.” They should have balloons fall out of the ceiling when it’s over. It felt so surreal to know that I had accomplished a goal lingering on my list for three years. There was a sense of belonging, to know I’m on the right path for this moment in my life. To finally accomplish something I’ve worked towards for so long was a very gratifying experience. 

What’s next, and any tips for other aspiring PR professionals? 

I’m excited and honored to serve as the 2022 President for PRCA Mobile. I hope to bring my best to the organization and utilize what I’ve learned to govern it well, along with an absolutely amazing group of talented and dedicated board members. 

A former boss shared this quote with me years ago, and I apply it often. “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” There’s always something more to learn. Our field is constantly evolving and extraordinarily complex. That’s one reason why pursuing accreditation helps reconnect you with both traditional and timeless principles, but also introduces you to the best practices of today.