Thoughts on the APR Credential

About 5 years ago, at the encouragement of my colleage Meg Carnes, I decided to pursue the public relations Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential. The process was more interesting than I expected. I had to document what I have learned during my PR career and then make a presentation to a review panel of peers.

I found great suppport from the PRSA-NCC chapter. I attended workshops offered by the chapter and met some tremendously supportive professionals.

The test was challenging but I passed. Earning the credential was a validating, fulfulling experiece.

Now, some years later, I particpate on review panels but have otherwise not spent a lot of time thinking about this credential. However, serving as a delegate at the recent PRSA Assembly changed all that.

Apparently, there is a just about annual attempt to remove the APR as a requirement for PRSA leadership at the national level. The effort has taken on many forms over the years, but the bottom line is that there are professionals who do not think that APR should be a criteria for service at the national level.

The debate on this year’s amendment began weeks before the formal Assembly on a discussion board. The discussion got heated pretty quickly, mostly among folks who have apparently been on both sides of this issue in past years. As a new delegate I chose to monitor and not engage.

I took time to talk to fellow professionals about the issue. Inrterestingly, the vast majority felt APR should remain as a criteria. “Lead by example” was a phrase I heard often. The reasoning: APR is a credential offered by the society and therefore the socieity’s leadership should have the credential.

From the PRSA website: APR “is valuable to those practitioners who earn it; to the agencies, clients and organizations they represent; and, perhaps most importantly, to the public relations profession itself.

Last weekend was the Assembly. Protocol calls for 30 minutes of discussion of each bylaw ammendment. When we got to the APR item, the speakers were mostly names I recognized from the discussion board. The 30 minutes were quickly used, and more delegates were in line to speak. But, a vote to extend debate failed. The delgates voted, and the amendment did not pass. It wasn’t even close.

 While the vote itself proved uneventful, the process has brought me to a place where I more fully appreciate the credential and the level of professionalism it represents. I am proud to have voted with the majority who feel that APR should remain a criteria for national leadership, and happy to be among the vocal advocates for this standard of the public relations profession.

More on the APR

Established in 1964, the Accreditation Program is the profession’s only national post-graduate certification program. It measures a public relations practitioner’s fundamental knowledge of communications theory and its application; establishes advanced capabilities in research, strategic planning, implementation and evaluation; and demonstrates a commitment to professional excellence and ethical conduct. The skills acquired through the process are applicable to any industry or practice area. Currently, more than 5,000 professionals from the agency, corporate, association and education fields hold the APR mark, Harold Burson and Daniel J. Edelman notable among them. Granting of APR is overseen by the Universal Accreditation Board.