Certificate Great Step Forward for Public Relations Profession

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

In October, I received a letter offering some truly welcomed news for those of us who are serious about advancing the public relations profession.

College students can now complete a program that may offer advantages when seeking out that first job after graduation. That’s tremendous, but I’m hoping the program provides the inspiration for students to go even further in the study of public relations.

The Certificate in Principles of Public Relations was just initiated by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), the consortium of public relations organizations that confers the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) and the APR+M for military public affairs personnel.

Let me get the disclosure stuff out of the way: I served on the UAB, was on the Board during the early planning stages for the Certificate program (and the APR+M for that matter) and donated a few bucks to a fund needed to get the program started.

APR 50thThe letter I received regarding the Certificate — sent by my friend Susan Barnes, APR, Fellow PRSA, UAB Immediate Past Chair — stated that a “soft launch” proved successful. Of the 52 students who took the Certificate examination, 46 or 90%, passed.

A more robust effort is scheduled for fall of 2015.

But what’s truly exciting about the Certificate program is its potential to inspire future PR professionals to better grasp the foundations behind modern, strategic public relations and hopefully someday pursue the APR, the best post-graduate professional decision I ever made.

In this increasingly digitally-driven age, I’m concerned that young professionals may not get the same opportunities to develop into true strategists.

Not too many years ago, agency account staff and in-house communicators were basically generalists.  Everyone had to know how to craft messages, pitch stories, manage budgets and lots more.  Those dedicated to the profession eventually (well, hopefully) grasped the value behind public relations programs structured around sound strategies, research and measurable objectives.

Today, young professionals at large agencies are charged with a singular task, like monitoring Twitter feeds or handling media relations. I know: The decision to breed PR specialists may be necessary these days, especially in the big shops that represent global brands.

But is this practice good for the long-term growth and expansion of public relations and its practitioners? I think not.

* * *

Yes, The PRDude has written about the Universal Accreditation Board and Accreditation.

 

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