An accountant isn’t worth much until earning the three magic letters at the end of his/her name: CPA. Industry accreditation is the standard necessary for an accountant to achieve success.
In public relations, the three magic letters are APR. Although not as popular as a certified public accountant certification, the APR, also known as accreditation in public relations, is continuing to grow in significance to help standardize the industry. It’s not as rigorous as a lawyer’s Bar examination or the CPA certification, but as Bob Pritchard, APR, says, “The knowledge, skills and abilities that are studied and assessed during the APR process cover the full gamut of competencies that are the hallmark of professionalism in public relations. The process requires candidates to commit to a significant amount of study in order to successfully demonstrate their mastery of the material.”
First established in 1964, the APR program is the only certification program for the profession. In a post-graduate exam, practitioners demonstrate their understanding of communications theory, strategic planning, ethical conduct and other industry-specific skills. The test is overseen by the Universal Accreditation Board but is endorsed by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
In recent years, APR has gained traction and is increasingly a minimum requirement for upper level PR jobs. Additionally, to serve as a national leader in PRSA, one must have their APR. However, less than 25 percent of practitioners have this certification. Currently, there is an industry-wide debate regarding the APR: Is it an accreditation worth pursuing?
In my opinion, the APR is necessary and should be demanded by more employers and clients. The accreditation holds our industry accountable to ethical guidelines and promotes a level of professionalism that is otherwise absent. APR provides practitioners an opportunity to prove their competencies in PR best practices.
In a presentation to ASU’s PRSSA chapter last semester, George Couch, State Public Affairs Officer for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, emphasized the importance of the APR and took a stance. “I hope we can get APR to that standard [of the CPA certification],” he said.
Did you know about the APR? Do you plan to go through the process? Do any of your internship bosses have their APR? Do you think it’s a good way to standardize the industry?