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The Path to Accreditation

By Paula MacDonald

April is APR month, and I’ve had the honor of serving as PRSA Tampa Bay’s Accreditation co-chair with Katy Parsons, APR for the past three years. We’ve helped to guide seven candidates on their Accreditation journey and look forward to working with six more chapter members this year in our 2018 study group cohort.

The decision to work toward Accreditation is a personal one that can take on many different forms. Our chapter has a comprehensive seven-week program that offers an opportunity for candidates to work alongside one another and support each other in their APR journey. Other opportunities to learn include the online APR course, a rigorous three-day APR boot camp offered periodically by PRSA National and, of course, self-study.

Regardless of the chosen path, the end result of this preparation is the completion of an extensive questionnaire and portfolio presentation in front of a peer-reviewed panel, followed by a comprehensive 132-question computer-based examination. Passing both of these hurdles earns candidates the privilege of adding “APR” to their signature and profoundly changes the way that they look at public relations planning and execution.

The APR is a testament of one’s professional expertise, ethics and personal commitment to the public relations industry. Any practitioner with a minimum of five years of professional experience in public relations who is a member of PRSA or one of eight other public relations organizations recognized by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) is qualified to apply for Accreditation.

Reasons for seeking this voluntary certification vary among candidates. For many, public relations might not be the curriculum that they studied in college, and these individuals find the depth of the APR program valuable in affirming and reinforcing what they may have learned on the job. For others, becoming Accredited offers new opportunities in career advancement and credibility among other industry professionals.

In an era where the reputation of the public relations practitioner is often on the line due to near daily misdeeds of highly visible “spinmasters,” the significance of differentiating oneself as an Accredited professional is more prudent than ever. By abiding by and adhering to a certain set of defined ethical standards, APRs tell the world that they care about doing the right thing and are committed to excellence and advancing the industry as a whole.

In the Tampa Bay Chapter of PRSA, we are proud to have nearly one-third of our chapter certified as Accredited public relations practitioners; the highest percentage of APRs in the state. This group of professionals is committed to their craft and to supporting other chapter members in beginning their APR journey when the time is right.

If you are interested in learning more about Accreditation, or would like to join our 2018 study group, there is still time. Please contact APR co-chairs Paula MacDonald, APR or Katy Parsons, APR, and visit our web page for more information. Candidates are beginning to work with APR mentors to prepare their portfolios and will be starting classes on Tuesday, June 19, following Panel Presentations.

Six Steps to Accreditation: 

  1. Apply to begin the process with PRSA.

  2. Prepare your questionnaire and portfolio with mentor guidance.

  3. Present your portfolio at peer-guided Panel Presentation.

  4. Study for exam independently or with a group.

  5. Take exam at testing center.

  6. Pass exam and celebrate your new status as an APR!

 

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