An Interview with Ken Hunter, APR
Ken Hunter is President and Chief Strategist of The PowerStation | Communications, a strategy-centered communication consultancy guiding organizations to growth by developing big idea PR programs that power it, and resolving problems that impede it. He develops communication strategies that grow relationships.
In this role, Ken provides businesses with visions, strategies, and inspiration for PR and marketing communication programs. With deep experience in the consumer, healthcare, tech, B2B, corporate, real estate, and government sectors, his work effectively builds relationships, counsels senior executives, and boosts revenue.
At The PowerStation | Communications, he directs:
- Strategic program development and management
- Branding development and execution
- The agency’s PRcitecture communications strategy modeling process
- Crisis communications
Ken has more than 20 years of experience in public relations. He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Ken was chair of the PRSA’s Tri-State District in 2013, encompassing more than 1,300 PR professionals in New Jersey, New York City, Connecticut, and Westchester County, N.Y. He was President of the New Jersey Chapter of PRSA in 2010, and served as President of PRSA’s Pikes Peak Chapter in Colorado, in 2006. Ken currently sits on the board of PRSA NJ, as Membership Chair.
Sheila: Why did you decide to earn your APR?
Ken: I wanted the challenge of being a better communication practitioner and having the verification that my methods, standards, and results were aligned with those at the top of our profession.
Sheila: How has having an APR helped you develop professionally?
Ken: The APR process can transform your thinking. For me, going through the APR process reaffirmed the need to follow certain standards when developing communication programs. For example, many of us use a version of the “four-step” planning process, however the research component often gets put aside at the expense of jumping straight to the development of the great ideas.
As PR pros, we’re wired to immediately start thinking how we’ll “solve” the problem, when in reality a senior-level PR counselor — particularly an APR — should be examining the marketplace, competitors, organizational dynamics and more BEFORE jumping into solutions.
When I judge award competitions, I see the negligence due to using improper PR technique and many entries come up short. You can see a significant gap in the work when someone doesn’t follow the process stressed in the APR program.
Sheila: What advice would you give for someone beginning the APR process?
Ken: I would suggest not beginning the process too early in your career. Rather than looking at the number of years you have been in PR, look at the depth of your experience. If your job gives you exposure to a wide range of teams/clients and situations (such as crises, product launches, counseling the C-suite, and broader communication matters), you may have that breadth of experience an APR candidate needs.
Also, you need to always look to “best practices” when answering questions during the exam. Constantly be thinking of your answers from that perspective rather than “what works” or human nature.
Sheila: How do you think APR elevates the public relations profession?
Ken: APR can function similarly to an endorsement where those that hold it are known to adhere to a certain set of top-tier ethics, methods, and standards in the course of their work. Other industries have similar designations that have real teeth; that’s how we should think of APR.
I like the fact there are standards for performance in PR. Often, an APR is in position to raise the level of work in their organization and achieve behavioral change.
The APR process will also liberate PR pros from narrowed thinking that emphasizes just a few facets of our profession. Break free of the perception PR is all about press releases and stacks of media clips! It should be freeing for any PR professional to see the big communication world that’s out there, and how they can affect it.