The APR credential is the public relations profession’s only post-graduate certification. A professional must demonstrate competency and a strong commitment to the profession to earn the APR. Accredited professionals have high professional and ethical standards and contribute to greater understanding of public relations.
PRSA designates April as national accreditation month. Its a great time for PR pros to consider earning the credential. It is also a time that generates discussion of the value of the APR.
What is the APR?
Established in 1964, the APR 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.
Recently the APR+M program was established for PRSA members of the military. APR+M signifies someone who meets all the qualifications of APR, PLUS a rigorous course of study surrounding military public affairs in joint operations.
My APR Experience
I earned the APR credential in 2007. The process renewed both my understanding of and commitment to the public relations profession. The preparation process reminded me of the fundamental communication principles that are the foundation of good public relations work. It gave me a standard vocabulary to use in working with other professionals across industries.
At the time, I was working as a chief operations officer. The requirement to continue professional development to maintain the credential helped me to stay on top of my PR skills.
This summer I decided to return to a public relations role. I was frustrated and disappointed to see that all of the online application systems did not allow for APR as a choice in the certifications section. Certainly, APR is not a widely known or appreciated credential.
However, I included the APR prominently on my resume. During interviews, I was always asked about the APR. While my interviewers were generally not familiar with APR, discussing the credential and the process gave me a terrific opportunity to offer insight into my skills and expertise.
Many who do not think the APR is a valuable credential argue that because it is not well known it is not valuable. I couldn’t disagree more. My personal experience has shown that earning the credential is an educational and rewarding professional experience; maintaining the credential is a way to continue to validate and expand the expertise I bring to my work.