April is APR month, which got me thinking back to last October’s spirited Leadership Assembly debate over whether PRSA officers, directors and key committee chairs should be required to be Accredited in Public Relations (APR). In the end, the Assembly reaffirmed that requirement with a decisive “Yes” vote.
This was good news for the credential. However, the APR still has not become a universal standard for increased professional recognition, despite research suggesting that those who hold the APR can increase their organizational status or even obtain pay upgrades. There’s also no noticeable hiring preference shown for people who hold the APR.
While a vocal group of (mostly) APRs fervently advocates for the credential within the Society, not much else has been done to establish the APR as a “must have” professional credential among external audiences. But there are other reasons why APR credentialing hasn’t reached the tipping point after 50 years in existence.
For the most part, the profession doesn’t speak with one voice, and there are no regulatory, legal or market pressures driving the need for — and, thus, interest in — professional public relations credentials. Also, attempts to build credibility have centered on increasing the number of Accredited professionals, rather than explaining and promoting the value of Accreditation to agency CEOs, HR professionals, corporate communicators and others who will understand and appreciate the benefits of hiring Accredited professionals
So, I started to think about solutions outside the traditional PR/advertising box — beyond talking to HR departments, wearing APR pins to business meetings and recommending the credential to colleagues and supporting it in social-media discussions, which hopefully are things most APRs already do.
What I’m thinking about is hiring a couple thousand salespeople to hit the ground and sell the value of APR to every PRSA member, public relations practitioner and internal communications professional throughout the country. We could promote the value of APR, drive demand and increase the number of Accredited members all at the same time.
I know we don’t have the resources to do this, but we do have about 3,000 PRSA members who are APR. It’s just a matter of organizing this “sales team,” pointing them in the right direction and asking them to start sellin
How You Can Help
To get started, make sure “APR” appears on your business card. Next, put APR in the electronic signature block for your outgoing email messages and, if you really want to be a sales superstar, hyperlink APR to the PRSA Accreditation webpage.
Each and every Accredited professional is hereby challenged to join the APR sales team and show the world your APR. And I’ve got a little sweetener for everyone who’s willing to do this.
Each individual who sends an email with APR as part of their electronic signature box to email@example.com will automatically be entered in a random drawing to win an iPad 2 ($499 value) and a year’s worth of data service ($300 value), donated to PRSA by my communications firm, Frause.
And, if you attach a digital scan to your email that shows APR on your business card, you’ll be entered in the drawing a second time (see complete contest rules)
Let’s face it: the responsibility for promoting the value and benefits of APR starts with each one of us. If you aren’t willing to take the simple step of putting APR on your business card or in your electronic signature block, you can’t expect PRSA or the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) to make it meaningful to the profession for you.
Who’s with me? Are you ready to join the APR sales team and show the world your APR? Let’s make this APR month really meaningful by setting an example for others of how to sell the value and benefits of APR . . . one member at a time.
If you have other ideas on how we might bring the APR credential closer to the tipping point, please send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Bob Frause, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a member of the PRSA Board of Directors, and chairman and CEO of Seattle-based communications firm The Frause Group Inc.
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