By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
There was some spirited online debate last week on a subject that’s close to my heart: The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential. The debate took place within the APR LinkedIn group and included comments from current and past members of the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) and APRs at large. As of this writing, there were 26 comments — a pretty good number.
Let me get the disclosure stuff out of the way: The PRDude (make that Edward M. Bury) is Accredited, and I served on the UAB for two three-year terms. If you’ve read previous posts, you’re aware that I’m passionate about the credential. It was the best professional achievement I accomplished since earning a Bachelor’s degree a long time ago.
Here’s what sparked the debate: A current UAB member started the discussion with a comment stating that the Board would focus efforts in 2013 on achieving these three goals:
1) Conclude beta testing on the entry-level credential in public relations;
2) Enhance the value of APR to Accredited members; and
3) Revitalize the APR brand to external audiences with a heavy focus on the HR and business communities.
Comments from APRs (you have to hold the credential to be part of this LinkedIn group) were generally supportive. Some questioned the value for the proposed entry-level credential, a development I knew about and wholeheartedly support. But some questioned whether the UAB should focus more towards more on items 2 and 3 from the above list, rather than allocate efforts toward #1.
I posted two comments because I wanted to make these points clear:
- UAB members dedicate their time and allocate personal resources (okay, out-of-pocket expenses for most) to attend three or four meetings annually and conduct Board work at other times — just to manage, administer and market the Accreditation in Public Relations program.
- Promoting the value of the credential has long been a focus — but it’s a challenging task give the fact the dollars needed for effective marketing just aren’t there.
That’s why I’m drafting this post. I’m hoping all APRs — those who earned Accreditation prior to 2003 under the essay-focused process, and those like me who earned it when the program was re-engineered and built around a computer-based examination — will do their part and promote the credential whenever possible. Let’s start with this virtual cheer: “I am an Accredited Public Relations Professional!”
Now, don’t you feel better?
APRs are expected to provide exceptional public relations counsel and adhere to high ethical standards every day we’re on the job. And, I trust that’s the case for just about every practitioner who holds the credential. But perhaps we don’t do a good enough job in communicating what those three letters stand for, why we earned them and what they mean to the industry.
Fellow APRs, make it a practice to promote Accreditation. There are around 5,000 professionals who are Accredited today. That’s a pretty substantial number of communicators; collectively, let’s make our voice heard. Blog about the impact Accreditation had on your career. Promote it on social media platforms. Be part of Accreditation training within your company or PRSA Chapter.
Now, it’s your turn: If you’re Accredited or have an opinion on how to raise awareness for the value of Accreditation, please share.