APR pros are the real brand ambassadors of the profession

Accountants, lawyers, doctors and many other professional fields have their mark of demonstrative competency but not those in our chosen field of public relations. In 1964, a system was devised to measure a PR practitioner’s fundamental knowledge of communications theory and its application; their advanced know-how in research, strategic planning, implementation and evaluation; and their commitment to professional excellence and ethical conduct.  Today, the APR program gives us a recognized mark of excellence. 

Though the process of attaining accreditation has evolved, one thing has remained constant:  public relations accreditation is voluntary. 

If there is a perk as PRSA Miami Chapter Accreditation Chair, it’s the opportunity to share the importance of the accreditation process with members.  When I talk to chapter members who took the plunge and became accredited, I hear familiar echoes about why they chose to pursue accreditation.  In many instances, it’s not unlike my own. 

PRSA Fellow Bob Ross attained his APR in 1976.  He shared with me his reason for becoming accredited.

“Our industry is full of bad actors and as someone who settled upon a public relations career while back in college, I saw accreditation as a means of establishing a point of differentiation.  Accreditation is one of many markers, like getting a master's degree or winning an award or writing a book, that others use to identify practitioners who are dedicated, competent and successful,” Ross said.

Fast forward 38 years.   Jeremy Katzman, our most recent accredited chapter member who earned the professional distinction in May felt the same way about his journey to accreditation.

“I pursued accreditation because it was the natural next step in my career. Since the public relations industry is not regulated, there are a lot of people who are able to call themselves public relations practitioners who may or may not have the experience and understanding of the strategic role of our field. The APR allows experienced practitioners to differentiate ourselves and demonstrate our understanding of research, ethics, laws and other areas of importance in PR and business,” said Katzman.

Time or technology hasn’t changed the reasons why PRSA members pursue accreditation.  Unfortunately, the field of public affairs hasn’t changed in one important aspect: Too many people are claiming expertise and are doing harm to clients, organizations, and above all, to the profession. 

Accreditation is a great way to refute boardroom naysayers who refer to our profession as spin, to our profession as “flack” and our currency as misrepresentation and disinformation.

If the 50th anniversary of Accreditation in Public Relations isn’t a reason to raise a glass and toast, buy a drink for those who voluntary pursued accreditation and earned the distinction to place APR at the end of their signature line.  Those accredited PR pros are the true brand ambassadors of the profession.

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