By Dr. Patrick Bishop, APR
“All excellence things are as difficult as they are rare,” so goes the old adage. The process of gaining Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) isn’t easy, but with some hard work, good direction, and persistence, you can succeed. Here are six reasons you should consider adding APR to your list of credentials.
- Continuous Learning
The process to become Accredited in Public Relations is thorough and multi-faceted. Successful candidates must demonstrate core competencies of public relations in a variety of categories including research, ethics, communication theory, business literacy, and media relations, just to name a few. Going through the APR process is an excellent way to brush-up existing skills or gain more PR knowledge. There are many resources to help you along the path, including a sample test, online study course, recommended texts, and a comprehensive study guide that outlines all the information you’ll need to know. Maintaining APR requires some minimal upkeep, which signifies your commitment to lifelong learning within your field of expertise.
- APR is a Symbol of Excellence
Accreditation in Public Relations was established in 1964 as a way to “recognize practitioners who have mastered the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to develop and deliver strategic communications” (prsa.org). Similar to an accountant becoming a CPA, gaining APR status is an important distinction signifying your PR excellence. It offers credible, external proof that you not only create and implement high quality PR tactics, but you understand the strategic importance of public relations.
- Higher Pay & More Job Opportunities
Credibility and responsibility come with Accreditation. Research has shown that APRs earn more money, report to higher-levels of management, and engage in more strategic discussions than their non-accredited peers. Additionally, gaining APR can significantly help your career advancement, opening doors for promotion and new job offers. In a 2010 research study of upper-level PR managers in Grand Rapids, an interesting finding was the advancement opportunities for those who gained accreditation.
- APR is Quicker, Cheaper & More Applicable than a Master’s
Accreditation costs are approximately $400 and the process must be completed within one year; many candidates complete it less than six months. A master’s degree typically takes at least two-years, with minimum costs around $600 per credit hour (30 credits = $18,000; not including books & supplies). Accreditation is a relatively quick, and significantly less expensive, way to increase competency and earn a credible designation of skill and excellence. Plus, Accreditation is focused on practical PR within the framework of the business-world. A master’s degree is a great option, but, in addition to taking more time and money, many master’s programs are typically more focused on theory versus real-world application.
- Personal Satisfaction
According to the field of psychology and social sciences, most of us do things because it feels good. Gaining APR is an accomplishment that feels great. Yes, it does require some ongoing maintenance, but gaining APR is fulfilling and it’s a designation you can have for the rest of your life.
- Advance the Profession
Spin doctors, buzz agents, and flash-in-the-pan promoters have given PR a bad name. In the ethical code of conduct for PRSA members, we are required to advance the profession of public relations. One way to do this is by gaining Accreditation. In becoming accredited, you are doing your part to ensure our profession not only gains respect in the public realm, but also gains credibility within the E-suite.
Are you ready to make an investment in yourself, your future, and your profession? West Michigan PRSA has a large number of accredited professionals ready to help. To pursue your APR, contact Christine Hoek, WMPRSA APR Committee Chair, at email@example.com. You can also find a variety of APR resources at prsa.org.
Dr. Patrick Bishop, APR, is Professor and Program Champion of Ferris State University’s nationally certified PR program. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.