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Three Little Letters That Say a Whole Lot About You: PRSA's APR
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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If you’re looking to improve yourself and your credentials, you might be looking to get a graduate degree. However, do not overlook the APR credential, established in 1964 as the Public Relations Society of America‘s (PRSA) certification program, well respected by colleagues and employers alike.

APR (Accredited in Public Relations) began deep within in PRSA, which continued to manage the program until 1998 when the Universal Accreditation Board — consisting of representatives from eight major U.S.-based PR professional societies — was formed to make the credential industry-wide, rather than just an organization-specific certification.

Although the APR credential is controversial in some circumstances (Richard Edelman is among those who have called for a more democratic PRSA to eliminate the APR as a requirement to hold national office in the organization), it still stands as a vanguard of setting and maintaining standards in the PR industry.

APR certification is designed for public relations professionals with five or more years of industry experience, and who possess an undergraduate university degree or higher. To earn the APR, candidates must first be members in good standing of a UAB member organization and complete a written series of questions detailing their professional background and experience.

If the written submission is approved, the candidate is then interviewed by a panel of three current PR practitioners who hold the APR certification, during which time a portfolio of the candidate's past work is presented and reviewed. This oral examination is referred to as the "readiness review."

The final element is a computer-based test covering key concepts in communications theory, legal issues, and professional ethics. Testing is administered by Prometric.

Once granted, the certification is retained for life, contingent on completion of regular continuing education activities, and current membership in a UAB member organization — consisting of representatives from eight major, U.S.-based PR professional societies.

Thinking about APR? Consider these words from Henry David Thoreau:

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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