APR

APR – Accreditation in Public Relations

For public relations practitioners, APR means Accredited in Public Relations, and it is a challenging goal that is indeed attainable. Central California Chapter PRSA stands ready to help its members achieve this next level in professional development.

The APR certification proves practitioners have successfully demonstrated competency in the knowledge, skills and abilities required to practice public relations effectively in today’s business arena.

The APR designation is the only professional certification program open to public relations professionals, and is administered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), a consortium of nine leading industry organizations, including PRSA.

Any PRSA member in good standing can apply for Accreditation, but it is recommended candidates have at least five years’ experience in the full-time practice or teaching of public relations, and who have earned either a bachelor’s degree in a communication-specific field (e.g., public relations, journalism, mass communication) or have equivalent work experience, which includes public relations principles, public relations writing, public relations campaigns, research, ethics and law and internship.

Candidates must complete an application that is to be reviewed by the UAB for adequate full-time public relations experience. If approved, the next step is to participate in a Readiness Review, which is a face-to-face review by three APRs to determine whether the candidate has a grasp of the knowledge, skills and abilities required to pass the comprehensive examination.

The final step is a Comprehensive Examination that is administered at numerous testing centers around the nation.

The cost is $385. PRSA members receive a rebate of $110 upon completion of the computer-based Examination. And, Central California Chapter members will receive a 50 percent one-time reimbursement of the test fee if the exam is taken within six months of completion of the Chapter Study Sessions and Readiness Review.

FAQ ABOUT Accreditation in Public Relations

What is the value of APR?

The APR offers public relations practitioners a proven process for ethical decision making, assuring employers and hiring authorities they are hiring a practitioner who is experienced in organizational management decisions, has an excellent grasp of the public relations field, and understands and abides by ethical standards common to all the organizations participating in the credentialing program.
Accredited professionals also have exposure to, experience with and understanding of the critical components of a comprehensive, strategic planning process in public relations that includes research, planning, implementation and evaluation.
The process of Accreditation represents an excellent professional development opportunity for public relations professionals. APR is the nation’s largest credentialing program specifically designed as a postgraduate certification program for public relations professionals.

How do Accredited professionals benefit employers?

The question is not whether Accredited professionals are better or earn more than their non-Accredited peers, but instead, what does Accreditation tell hiring managers and clients about the public relations professional? Accreditation demonstrates competency to employers and clients in the following ways:

  • Accredited professionals are likely to be senior-level strategists who have demonstrated skills and abilities necessary to ethically advise executives or managers on how best to establish and maintain the relationship necessary to meet organizational objectives.
  • They have successfully completed a challenging and proven review of the practice and situation-based examination process, focused on “doing” in addition to “knowing.”
  • Professionals with the APR distinction are required to maintain their certification through professional development and educational activities, helping them stay up-to-date with trends in the field.
  • They have committed to enhancing the profession and have demonstrated the commitment to succeed.

What role do ethics play in Accreditation?

Professionals with the APR designation are bound by a professional code of ethics that was agreed upon by the participating organizations that came together to unify the profession under one credentialing program. The professional values found in the code are advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness. The code is available at here.
Adherence to these values builds respect and credibility with the public and hence trust for the profession of public relations, which in turn improves and expands professional practices among the public relations community.
A portion of the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations covers ethics and legal concerns that public relations practitioners will likely encounter in their careers. Ethics have been part of the Examination since its inception 50 years ago, and ethics continue to be integrated into the APR process.

What does the APR process test or assess in a practitioner?

The following competencies are assessed during the Readiness Review and computer-based Examination, which together comprise the Accreditation process:
o Research, planning, implementation and evaluation of public relations programs.
o Ethics and law affecting the field of public relations.
o Communication models and theories.
o Business literacy.
o Management skills and issues.
o Crisis communication and management.

How does Accreditation support public relations as a profession?

The Accreditation process is a valuable step in a practitioner’s career, benefiting the practitioner, the employer and the public relations profession as a whole.
APR is one step in the effort to move the public relations field from a craft to a true profession, increasing the credibility and positive perception of the discipline. It is well documented that early public relations practices were rooted in press agentry, with historical figures like P.T. Barnum shaping the public’s perceptions of the field. The advent of Accreditation and its ethical roots have improved the image of the public relations discipline, moving it from so-called “flacks” to professional communicators executing a management function critical to an organization’s success.
The APR process has helped the public relations profession mature as a whole. Accredited professionals demonstrate understanding of and experience with continually evolving best practices in the field, as well as a commitment to a code of ethics and to excellence in public relations practice.