After having worked for about 15 years in public relations in Brussels, I moved with my family to the Austin area in the summer of 2015. Since moving to Austin, I have discovered that public relations as practiced in the United States has more in common with how it is practiced in Europe than I originally expected. The challenge I did encounter, however, has been in convincing Texas-based clients that my Euro-leaning resume is not a liability or somehow not to be trusted because it doesn’t have as many familiar-sounding names on it.
The most important benefit Accreditation offers me is that it formally vouches for the skills and knowledge that I have accrued in my career. I am now officially a member of the community of American APR professionals, and the acronym behind my name sends out a strong signal to any potential client that I am tuned in to American PR best practices, legislation and ethics.
Would I have pursued Accreditation if I had been born and bred in Texas? Well, yes! PR practitioners should always seek to raise the bar as high as possible. Let’s not kid ourselves, the PR profession is still not always getting the recognition it deserves from the C-suite. We also are living through a time of fierce competition with colleagues from the marketing and advertising sector who are eyeing our market share. That means we should seek to do as much as possible to stand out and prove our value as a profession. We should always strive to be the very best we can be, in both our methodological approach to identifying and solving the communications needs of our clients, and in our current knowledge of the tactical tools and solutions that will best meet those needs.
The APR comes with no modest demands in terms of past experience, understanding of the profession and commitment to continuous education — and rightly so. Professional PR practitioners should embrace the opportunities offered by the APR. When the time is right, they should make it a priority, if only because the future is always uncertain and Accreditation is a great way to stand out and stay relevant in a rapidly evolving business climate.
Jo Detavernier, APR, is vice president and partner of Manzer Communications in New Braunfels, Texas. Follow Jo on Twitter @jodetavernier.