National Capital Chapter

How You Can Use APR Outside of Communications

When I got my APR 11 years ago, I didn’t realize how many places I would use the APR process in my life. Some of the reasons why I earned my APR are: it enhances strategic thinking and planning; emphasizes the importance of using research when developing communication plans; crisis communication; and ethics.

A big section of the exam is RPIE (Research, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation). When you study for the APR, it emphasizes the importance of research, communication theories, and having strong objectives. I now realize that I have used my APR throughout my career and personal life, not just in my professional communications.

Four and half years ago, I moved from communications to membership and marketing roles, which now has evolved to membership, sponsorships and CLE (Continuing Legal Education). Working in associations, especially small ones, you dabble in different areas of association management.

One of my major responsibilities is membership recruitment and retention for the National Association of Bond Lawyers (NABL). When I started in my membership role, I conducted research on who our members are, demographics, how we have recruited them in the past, etc. I then conducted a SWOT analysis, qualitative surveys, staff interviews, and a communication audit. I examined the membership data and looked for trends that worked and areas we could improve. From this research, I developed a membership recruitment plan with goals, strategies, objectives, tactics, and evaluation each year.

When I put together my plan, I considered how we could incentivize members to recruit new members (word of mouth marketing/using volunteers/highly engaged members to convey the value of membership). I remembered one of the communication theories I learned during my APR process about the importance of your friends, colleagues and community in influencing your decision to purchase something. I used that as one of my strategies in recruiting new members.

Each year, I’ve tweaked my membership recruitment and retention plan based on the results, which included two-way feedback (surveys and feedback from members). In 2022, NABL saw a 42% increase in new members. Earning my APR played a critical role in how I communicated with members and potential members through marketing emails, conversations with members, and developing my strategies and tactics.

In June 2022, I took over CLE and sponsorships for NABL. I’ve used my APR skills in my sponsorship outreach and increased revenue by 30 percent.

From a personal standpoint, I’ve been using my APR skills with fantasy football and traveling. I played fantasy football for about 15 years (I gave it up in 2013), and I used the APR process without realizing it. Y’all may be thinking it’s a stretch, but let me explain. When you are in a fantasy league, you are playing against 10-12 players. Here’s how I have used RPIE:

Research: Before each draft, I would conduct primary and secondary research. I would interview friends and get their advice and look at past statistics, NFL schedule, past points in fantasy, etc.

Planning: My goal each year was to win the whole league and my division as well as matchups each week.

Strategy: Put together the best team to win and think about bye weeks when drafting players.

Objective: To score more points than my opponent or I would have specific points for each player.

Tactics: Develop my ideal list of players I wanted to draft as well as a back-up list in case someone gets taken. Once I had my team, I would need to develop new tactics (new team of players) each week, especially if there were bye weeks or injuries.

Implementation/Evaluation: Each week my team would play and I would win or lose. If I didn’t win, I would evaluate why and think about how to switch it up for the next week. Sometimes I would need to trade a player or get a player off the waivers. At the end of the season, I would either win or lose.

From a traveling perspective, I use research (picking a location, things to do, get advice from friends and family), make specific goals and objectives of what I want to achieve on the trip, tactics (activities and experiences) and evaluate it at the end. Plus, if you run into travel issues, you have the knowledge and experience of how to handle a crisis.

If you have earned your APR, how have you used it outside of the communication space?

Start your APR journey and register for the upcoming APR Jump Start workshop on April 21.

Sabrina Kidwai, APR, CAE
Membership and CLE Director, NABL