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In a time when the economy is on edge and the job market is uncertain, you’ve probably found yourself asking: “What sets me apart?”
For PR professionals, it may be APR accreditation. APR Accreditation is something that carries a high degree of respect within the industry and can help practitioners stand out. However, is pursuing the accreditation the right move? What is the real value?
Don’t fret. I’ve broken down the details to make the decision less daunting.
What is an APR accreditation?
Administered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the Accreditation in Public Relations program measures a PR professional’s core knowledge of communication theory and how it translates into practical application. The accreditation teaches advanced skills in research, strategic planning, implementation and evaluation. The program highly encourages commitment to professional excellence and ethical practices.
Once your initial application for accreditation has been accepted, you have one year to complete the study program, present for the Readiness Review panel and take an exam.
Who should get it?
While PR professionals are not required to obtain this certificate, it is advisable to those looking to further their career, especially those pursuing a management career track. Many communications employers, including agencies, appreciate a PR professional’s initiative in completing the accreditation program. Accreditation can also be valuable to those whom are well along in their careers and are looking for fresh strategies to implement into their work. The program offers a non-traditional curriculum that differs greatly from standard university courses and addresses new and innovative tools such as digital and social media.
It’s not an easy accreditation to get -- candidates are encouraged to have worked in or taught public relations for at least five years before applying.
How will it help me?
When I asked a colleague what he felt the downfall of the APR accreditation was, his response was simple and to the point: nothing!
The program is voluntary, so those who pursue it show a commitment to the industry and may set themselves up for increased compensation. While you do only have one year to take the exam, studying is done at your own pace so you are able to work it in your daily schedule. The amount of time spent preparing varies per person depending on background and prior knowledge.
Once accredited, to keep their status active, a practitioner is required to complete ongoing training, outside professional development activities and give back by volunteering. Additional value comes from the study groups and professional development sessions where candidates are given the opportunity to network with other knowledgeable and passionate PR professionals. All of these requirements serve as a tool to enhance the candidate’s ongoing business acumen.
Overall, it seems the APR Accreditation is an extremely valuable tool for PR specialists looking to enhance their knowledge base, learn new and innovative techniques, network with other like minded professionals and have sustained confidence in their practices. Do you have the APR Accreditation?
To learn more about it, visit http://www.prsa.org/Learning/Accreditation.