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Enhancing the APR

This year the APR Credential celebrates its 50th anniversary. Given its continued importance to PRSA and the public relations profession, the PRSA Board of Directors is marking the milestone by investing in the program’s future.

Of particular importance are the need to achieve consensus on what the future holds for the APR and credentialing generally, and establish agreed-upon metrics for evaluating the APR’s success.

There also are important questions that must be addressed. For example, are credentialing and, more specifically, the APR, meant to substitute for professional licensing? Can an examination process, no matter how rigorous, substitute for actual job experience? And, does APR simply need more and better marketing, or fundamental changes to the program itself?  

To answer those and other questions, last May PRSA retained the Organizational Performance Group (OPG), an organizational development consulting firm in Hamden, Conn., to achieve a simple goal:  create a plan to enhance the profile and prestige of the APR Credential. 

In September, OPG presented its findings to the PRSA Board of Directors (Board), the Universal Accreditation Board and the PRSA Leadership Assembly Delegates. After sharing the findings, OPG opened a two month feedback period and sought input from a variety of stakeholders from different perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of the current APR, pros and cons of maintaining the APR, desired services for APR holders, suggestions for improvements and strategies for supporting Accreditation and marketing it to PRSA Members and employers. After a cursory review, the feedback to the OPG analysis has been overwhelmingly positive. 

The next step is for the Board to assemble a task force to further review the OPG findings and submitted comments. The task force will be co-chaired by Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA, and Elizabeth Pecsi, APR, Fellow PRSA. The group will be charged with providing recommendations to the Board regarding changes to the APR that should be considered for implementation.

PRSA believes that an in-depth look and consideration of recommendations should be conducted prior to final recommendations being made to the Board. Therefore, the task force review process will likely take much of the first half of 2014 with recommendations going before the Board for a vote during the second half of the year.


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