By Kathy Richardson, APR
When you see “MD” after someone’s name, you know right away that person is a doctor. When you see the letters “MBA” after a person’s name, this announces to the world that he or she holds a master’s degree in business administration. But have you seen the letters “APR” after the names of certain people and wondered what they stood for and what these people do for a living?
APR stands for “Accreditation in Public Relations.” Accreditation sets standards of practice and ethics, legitimizes the public relations profession and builds accountability by identifying those who have demonstrated broad business and communications knowledge, strategic perspective and sound professional judgment in the field.
How the APR began
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) started the APR program in 1964. This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary.
Today, APR stands as the mark of distinction to recognize practitioners who have mastered the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to develop and deliver strategic communications. Here in North Florida, the APR is promoted by the Florida Public Relations Association, one of eight participating associations of the Universal Accreditation Board, a diverse group composed of educators, military, public affairs personnel and public relations professionals who oversee the accreditation program.
By attaining the APR, PR professionals prove that they are not only good communicators but are also conversant in management, marketing, finance, advertising, sales promotions, employee engagement, ethics, social entrepreneurship and other relevant fields. In addition, they must also exhibit initiative, creativity, innovation and persuasiveness.
Criteria for APR candidates
APR candidates should have:
- At least five years of experience in the practice of PR or of teaching PR courses.
- A bachelor’s degree in a communication-specific field or equivalent work experience.
- A body of work to demonstrate competence and an appreciation and understanding of the responsibility of a PR practitioner.
Reasons to pursue accreditation, reasons to hire an APR
Attaining the APR distinction is voluntary. The reasons for pursuing it are as unique as the individuals themselves. Some pursue it for professional reasons; others see it as a natural evolution within their career. Some even see it as a personal development tool.
The PRSA website says the four primary reasons for practitioners to earn APR certification are because it is a recognized standard, it promotes lifelong learning, it serves as a career enhancement, and it is positive for the field of public relations.
The “recognized standard” refers to the fact that APR has been around for 50 years. APR is a recognized designation among many public relations professionals. APR represents knowledge and ethical conduct.
A business or organization hiring an APR is assured the designation reflects the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to be a professional public relations practitioner.
Another distinction for the APR is it requires maintenance in the form of continuing education. This assures that accredited practitioners are staying current with public relations trends and involved in professional development.
Value behind APR
While technology has changed in the past five decades, and as the practice of PR and the media environment continue to evolve, one thing has not changed: the value of accreditation and the importance it plays in society.
So the next time you meet a person with APR after his or her name, you’ll know that he or she is a PR practitioner. More importantly, you’ll know he or she is a PR professional. The APR is the mark of PR excellence.
To learn more about the APR visit fpragainesville.com or praccreditation.org.
Kathy Richardson, APR, is the editor for Clay Electric Cooperative, a member-owned distribution electric utility headquartered in Keystone Heights. She is looking forward to working with FPRA members who are interested in advancing their career by obtaining their APR or CPRC in 2015.