I’m a huge advocate of the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) program, and it’s not hard to figure out why. The APR has been good to me — very good. But when I began, I had no idea how much the APR would change my career.
I knew other communications and PR professionals with those three little letters after their name, and they all seemed to have one thing in common: They were clearly at the top of their game professionally. To be specific, they all seemed to display a higher level of understanding of strategic communications. And they were all active in their profession. I admired and looked up to them because they were impressive, and they all credited the APR with boosting their career. They told me the APR was amazing professional development, and they pursued Accreditation because they wanted to take the next step up in their career. They explained the process required commitment but assured me it was very well within my reach.
The process had just a few, simple steps. After paying my application fee, I studied and took classes offered by my Chapter. Then I Advanced through my Panel Presentation and progressed to the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations. Those APRs were right; it really was amazing professional development. The process took about six months and I successfully passed the Examination in 2005.
I was the communications director for a state agency when I received my Accreditation. My salary was not low by any means, but appropriate for that position and level in my career. The tools the APR gave me clearly helped me become more strategic in my career. My salary rose by just over 48 percent when I accepted my next position, which was also in PR management in the public sector. In the ten years following my Accreditation, my salary in the public sector would increase roughly 120 percent. Considering the APR process cost me less than $400, I think the ROI absolutely penciled out.
Do I credit the APR with my salary increase? You bet. The APR taught me a strategic mindset, which enabled me to be more effective for my employers. Now I’m an evangelist for the APR. So much so, I became the APR chair of my local Chapter, served on the PRSA Accreditation Marketing Committee and chaired the campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the APR in 2014. What I can’t figure out is why others don’t pursue Accreditation. The APR significantly boosted my career and enabled me to become more strategic, and I have those three little letters after my name to prove it.
For more information about the Accreditation in Public Relations process, visit www.praccreditation.org.
Jacque Coe, APR is a Seattle senior communications strategist who is passionate about APR. She serves on PRSA’s Accreditation Marketing Committee and chaired the 2014 campaign for the 50th anniversary of the credential. She also serves in the Puget Sound chapter as a volunteer for Accreditation.