By Suzanne Ross, Chair, Accreditation Committee
Last Friday, at the PRSA NCC Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) seminar to “Jump-start” candidates’ year-long study for their independent assessment, it struck me, that everyone is looking inward to align their moral compass, discover their unique professional advantage while developing a career roadmap to navigate a transforming industry.
Unlike career paths of a Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Executive Officer that have well-known professional skill requirements, the PR career path is less understood. PR practitioners seek the APR in order to acquire third-party validation and formal recognition of their professional competencies to advance a desired career in public relations.
The value proposition of an Accredited Public Relations professional is broad and deep expertise that supports operations, social effectiveness and measurement toward organizational performance goals.
Although they are not legal experts, they provide a similar staff counsel function as they are knowledgeable about legal principles and statutes important to the PR practice and advise management on stakeholder and ethical issues that could impact public opinion and an organization’s operation and success.
During the APR Jump-start, presenter Patrick Evans shared his expertise as a trusted advisor providing his network – both internal and external publics – with information and recommendations to anticipate or respond to issues and crisis.
Like other APR experts leading difficult conversations about what to do and what not to do when an organization faces a crisis, his advice is to tell it straight, consistently:
- It’s a unique situation where a person banks a career on personal reputation: telling the facts, and explaining what his organization can and can’t do and why, with integrity and discretion. He said, “Every communication is a credibility transaction.”
- “I’ve invested in building relationships before crisis or career-defining moments occur. Through strong relationships built on a sound reputation, I’m given latitude to resolve issues, because people know I’ll discover and share the facts.”
- Whether communicating with senior management, the reporter down the hall, the blogger or diverse people on social media, he said, “I deliver on the promise of accuracy and truthfulness in communication.”
With insight from APR presenters Joyce Brayboy, Karin Drinkhall at the Jump-start and hundreds of APRs, I’m inspired to learn that when the issues are challenging, the speed of communication quick, and competition gets tough, APRs and APR candidates adhere to core professional practices and values that shore up the APR advantage.