Communicating the Value of Accreditation in Public Relations

April 2, 2018

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When I had the opportunity to review my job description recently, I made sure it included the phrase “APR preferred.” As accredited PR practitioners, we must work proactively with human resources departments to ensure our job descriptions include Accreditation in Public Relations. Usually, it’s as simple as asking HR for the chance to review your job description and making sure it’s up-to-date.

We also need to educate executive teams on what having an APR means: education, ethics and expertise.

In a field as competitive as public relations, everyone — from veteran practitioners to those new in the profession, recent graduates and students about to graduate — should highlight their skills, education and credentials.

The APR designation carries respect across industries, notes Dr. Mary Ann Pearson, APR, program director for online Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Public Relations programs at California Baptist University/Online and Professional studies in Riverside, Calif.

“I encourage our graduates to set a goal to become APR,” she says. “Those who are the most qualified will gain top consideration by employers. Achieving a bachelor’s, master’s and APR shows a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence.”

Market your own skills

As PR professionals, we’re known for shaping the reputations of the organizations we serve. But too often, we neglect to market our own skills. When our executive team doesn’t understand the value of an APR, it’s our responsibility to educate them. And when our job descriptions don’t reflect “APR preferred,” we’re the ones who should update them. Education and development are cornerstones in my workplace, but it was still up to me to explain the importance of APR to management and to describe its benefits to the organization.

PR practitioners should also regularly update their LinkedIn profiles, online portfolios and résumés to reflect their accomplishments, degrees and credentials.

The terms “accreditation” and “public relations” can mean different things to different people, including our own employers. Look for ways to promote the importance of the APR credentials behind your name to show that what we do is a specialized skill.

To drive demand for the credential, Accredited PR professionals can also write editorials about its value. Even simple touches like including “APR” in your email signature help advance the importance of Accreditation.

Pearson encourages her students to include website links in their résumés to explain what an APR means. “When asked what the certification stands for, APRs should have a brief paragraph ready to explain the designation,” she says. “Many say it is similar to CPA for accountants, which is a good start. But a brief description of the APR and how it applies to the position being applied for is even better.” 

Rachel McGuire, APR

Rachel McGuire, APR, is communications manager for Western Municipal Water District in Riverside, Calif., and president of PRSA’s Inland Empire Chapter.

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