ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
October 30, 2009

Your Best Bet for PR Success — Navigating the Accreditation Process


Accredited in Public Relations. These are four words that carry powerful meaning — particularly if you are a public relations professional. They indicate the achievement of an important credential for public relations practitioners. They indicate the completion of a rigorous set of oral, written and computer-based examinations designed to assess the competencies of practitioners in 16 specific areas. In short, the APR is a mark of excellence for those obtaining the credential.

It is true — I am biased. I earned my APR in 1995 — more than 14 years ago. And I have served in many capacities (including now as the chair of the Universal Accreditation Board) wherein I advocate for acceptance and appreciation of the credential. I have worked tirelessly to help educate my peers and students on the value of the credential, sharing my views on why every public practitioner should pursue it.

Why have I worked for years on behalf of the APR? I believe it is a pinnacle of achievement that every public relations professional should strive for. The APR is a brand that has wide acceptance over nine different public relations organizations including but not limited to PRSA, the National School Public Relations Association, the Religion Communicators Council, the Southern Public Relations Federation and the Texas Public Relations Association. Attainment of the credential indicates a commitment to the public relations profession and to its ethical practice. It also indicates a broad knowledge, strategic perspective and sound professional judgment by the holder.

But most importantly, there are data that support my advocacy for earning the credential:

  • Accredited public relations professionals earn $102,031 vs. $85,272 for those who are not Accredited, or 20 percent more. (Source: 2005 PR Week/Korn Ferry Salary Survey)
  • The affluence of Accreditation increased to $94,000 from $80,000 when professional experience was controlled. This suggests that formal professional development programs and education are efficient ways to increase income when compared to mere experience. (Source: Study on independent public relations practitioners conducted in 2007)
  • The “APR” is among the leading international credential brands for public relations professionals. (Source: Universal Accreditation Board historical data)

It’s no wonder that the Puerto Rico legislature has established a Regulatory Board for Public Relations Professionals in Puerto Rico! (They created this group to further recognize the differentiating characteristics of professionals who practice public relations.)

On a personal note, I recently completed another major step in my educational pursuits. I earned my Master’s in Business Administration — graduating with a 4.0! I am very, very proud of this accomplishment. Why did I do it? I believe in life-long learning and I want to be a more valuable asset to my employer, further strengthening my skill sets. I mention the attainment of my MBA due to the fact that I’ve seen blogs and commentary comparing the value of achieving one of these important credentials over the other. I say: Why not both? There’s no reason for us to compare and contrast in that way as these marks are both very important!

As I close, I do hope that the readers of this blog have registered for the PRSA 2009 International Conference to be held in San Diego, California in November. It’s going to be a great program! On Sunday, November 8,  I’ll be leading a session in the Your Society at Work programming track that is very important for those considering achievement of the APR credential. It’s on preparing for the Readiness Review, the first step in the APR journey. The panel is fantastic and includes Dr. Bey Ling Sha, APR; Stefanie Casenza, APR; Don Stanziano, APR; and Bill Gay, APR. We will do a formal overview of the Readiness Review process, but the most exciting element will be our presentation of a “mock” Readiness Review. The goal of the session is to educate those considering this important step on what’s involved in this phase of Accreditation. So please plan to come out! (But for those who can’t attend, we will do our best to record this activity.)

Finally, if you are considering attainment of your APR, visit www.praccreditation.org. Come to the Conference, participate in a boot camp or contact me and/or other members of the UAB.We’d love to hear from you!

By Felicia W. Blow, MBA, APR, 2009 chair, Universal Accreditation Board, the director of
Public Affairs for Cox Communications in Chesapeake, Va., and represents the Public
Relations Society of America (PRSA) on the UAB. Connect with Felicia on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Join Felicia, along with Dr. Bey Ling Sha, APR; Stefanie Casenza, APR; Don Stanziano, APR; and Bill Gay, APR, for “Your Best Bet for PR Success — Navigating the Accreditation Process” at the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, Nov. 7–10 in San Diego, CA!

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