Build Career Resilience With Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)

APRBuild Career Resilience With Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)
Interview with Suzanne Lundin-Ross, chair of the APR committee

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the chapter?
Working with PR leaders as the chair of the Accreditation Committee inspires me to amplify the breadth and depth of our knowledge across the PRSA network. I earned my APR in 2008 while working overseas. With more than 15 years of international public relations and development expertise in crisis and disaster management, public health, food security, infrastructure and economic growth in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, I hope to bridge local and national APR expertise to a global platform.

What is Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)?
Accreditation is formal recognition that you are capable of meeting advanced industry standards much like other professional certifications such as those held by your accountant, dentist, or architect.Accredited Public Relations professionals, also called APRs, distinguish from other PR practitioners in that they demonstrate broad business and communications knowledge, a strategic perspective and sound judgment, and also a personal commitment to life-long professional development.

Why would PR pros pursue the accreditation? 
The APR offers branded value to organizations and members alike.For companies and organizations, confidence in APR competency is a given- an APR Pro has been independently tested and validated; Importantly, APRs offer added-advantage: they are able to parse metrics that matter for achieving business results. Whether they work to promote a positive policy environment, respond to issues, or help build the business bottom line, they achieve a return on investment.

For public relations practitioners, the APR validates higher-level strategic thinking and management skills—but more than a badge of quality assurance, the APR is a banner line of your toolkit and network help you access growth opportunities and career mobility.

How should PR practitioners begin their accreditation process?
Before applying for the APR, we encourage candidates to join our introductory overview session, called a Jump-start. Registration is now open for the 21 April, half-day, accreditation Jump-start. Register here: https://www.prsa-ncc.org/2017-accreditation-public-relations-mini-jump-start).

This introductory session, led by seasoned APR facilitators, provides a general overview of professional competencies: knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that focus on:
·       Strategic design, research, planning, implementation, and evaluation
·       Public relations management
·       Ethics and legal practices
·       Issue and crisis management
·       Theoretical and historical underpinnings of the practice

We discuss resources such as core texts and tools specifically applicable to the two components of the APR accreditation examination process:
·       The case study panel presentation assessment
·       The computer-based examination

We wrap up with a discussion about how to develop an individualized APR work-plan.


Is APR training appropriate for both those thinking about the APR and those seriously seeking the APR?

Absolutely! While the APR designation demonstrates a gold-standard of professional practice, each person’s pathway to the APR is unique.

Some pursue studies independently, some take years to test their mettle, while others seek support from the PRSA on-line program (see: http://online2learn.net/APR/) and/or chapter services to lock-down this designation of expertise.

We recognize that a professional support system contributes to an individual’s success. At NCC (see https://www.prsa-ncc.org/accreditation), our volunteers not only facilitate the PRSA national on-line course but also serve as a local point of contact for training, coaching, and mentoring. This helps streamline understanding about ever-improving standards of practice required for the APR.

To help address specific knowledge and skills gaps the NCC offers “deep-dive” Saturday seminars that focus on core KSAs. Our seminar in May will focus on strategic planning, and the seminar in June will focus on regulatory, legal and ethical practices. If we learn from military practitioners that they need a specialized course, we are ready to offer APR+M certificate training.

We also offer APR meet-ups to practice:
a)    Application of the APR framework and KSAs to situations in the current news
b)    Scenario-based questions like those used on the computer examination, to strengthen capacity to make appropriate recommendations on-the-spot, as well as test-taking skills and confidence.

Accreditation sounds like a professional fitness challenge.

Well, it is, and in a good way!

We help practitioners build a strong practice and a powerful professional network of current and emerging APR pros: the key to personal and professional career resiliency.
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