From the earliest days of press agentry (Boston Tea Party anyone?) to the current unwavering appetite for transparent communication expected by online audiences, the public relations field has prevailed as critical to informing stakeholders and creating mutually beneficial relationships.
Despite this longstanding tradition, even the most “Pollyanna” of PR professionals recognizes the field’s enduring perception challenges. Acknowledging these trials, the Public Relations Society of America sponsored the development of the Accredited in Public Relations professional designation in 1964, now managed by the Universal Accreditation Board, a consortium of nine professional communication organizations.
Earning the APR professional designation is a rigorous process, testing a professional’s skills in 60 areas of knowledge, skills and abilities within the public relations profession, from demonstrated abilities for research, planning, implementation and evaluation to knowledge of the field’s history, influential professionals and ethical standards.
This year, I tested my mettle and succeeded in earning the designation.
The process begins with a presentation to three Accredited panelists to describe a public relations program demonstrating one’s leadership, creativity and mastery of interpersonal communication skills.
I poured my nearly 15 years of experience into a comprehensive report, nearing novel-like proportions, and a presentation encompassing no less than 90 minutes to deliver. The experience was a refreshing opportunity to reflect upon my own skills and knowledge and share them with others who have a mutual understanding of a practitioner’s client responsibilities.
Successful completion of the presentation advances candidates to the second part of the process: the computer-based Examination, which is not to be underestimated.
Even with years of experience, the application-based, not memory-based, Examination requires a practitioner to demonstrate a mastery of communications theory, ethical standards and practical advice beyond one’s own area of specialty. With more than 130 questions (plus beta-unscored questions), many requiring multiple answers, one cannot hide behind the standard “Pick B” option when in doubt.
To succeed, APR candidates must take study seriously, viewing the pursuit as an academic journey rather than simply a reflection of one’s own work.
Receiving the congratulatory letter was a tremendous symbol of achievement, as was adding those three important letters to the end of my name: APR.
The pursuit of continued professional development is highly valued at Tanner Friedman, and every team member is dedicated to advancing her/his skills. Not only is earning the APR designation a symbol of my own dedication to the importance of public relations, it adds to the depth of the Tanner Friedman team’s collective talents for our current and future clients, assuring access to reliable counsel, sound ethics and sophisticated experience.