I attended part of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) international conference in San Diego this past weekend. It was an interesting compilation of traditional PR practitioners and those who focus more on new media channels for communicating messages.
One thing I found quite interesting was the discussion held on Saturday during the Assembly regarding APR and whether or not the PRSA national board members should be required to hold this certification.
I’m a big proponent of the APR and serve as co-chair on the Tulsa chapter’s accreditation committee. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating a program that has led to approximately a dozen new APRs over the past four or five years. For a chapter of about 100 people, we have a disproportionately high percentage of APRs with nearly 30 individuals who have passed the exam.
For an organization like PRSA to even question whether or not the APR should be required bothered me. If we as PR professionals expect for the APR to be considered credible in the business world, then we have to lead the way in encouraging our members to earn the certification. The APR process is not about making someone a better leader or giving them the ability to govern an association, but it is about creating a strategically minded PR professional who can represent our industry well at the local, regional or national level. If PRSA as a whole cannot support its’ members in the APR process by requiring the certification of its’ highest leadership then why should we expect anyone outside the industry to respect or find credibility in what an APR can bring to the PR world.
I’ve said this before, but the APR process is not necessarily about earning more money or creating a veil of mystery around what we do. Instead it’s about personal growth and professional development. The exam steps provide a great deal of learning than anyone truly understands until they have gone through the process. As an accreditation leader at the chapter level, I find that APR candidates come into the process expecting one thing but always leave with a new appreciation for the PR industry as a whole and a more defined understanding of the business world, which translates into making them smart PR practitioners.
What do you think?