Why I Got My APR


If you’ve received an email from Lindsay, Cam or me in the last few months, you might have noticed a new addition to our email signature, specifically three letters—APR. For those familiar with PRSA parlance, you know exactly what I’m talking about. For all others, let me elaborate.

APR stands for Accreditation in Public Relations, which is a distinction the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) developed “as a way to recognize practitioners who have mastered the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to develop and deliver strategic communications.” More simply, it shows you understand that PR is more than just tactics and “press agentry,” to use a word learned in our studies.

How do you get it?

It’s been a professional goal for each of us the past few years, but it wasn’t until our local PRSA chapter held an APR Boot Camp that we decided to do more than just fill out the first page of the application—something we’d all done more times than we care to admit. See, the process isn’t easy or short.

The APR exam consists of two parts:

  1. A 60 to 90-minute panel interview where you present a public relations campaign you worked on that followed the four-step process (research, planning, implementation and evaluation)
  2. A 3.5-hour multiple-choice computer exam that covers everything from communication theory to the history of public relations

The whole thing took approximately two months, which is actually considered short for most APR candidates, who can take up to a full year to complete the process.

Why did we do it?

Anyone who has more than a day’s worth of experience knows there’s a big difference between how we should ideally practice public relations and how it’s done in the real world. Rarely do we have the budget and time to do all the research we should do, for example. Still, the APR reminds us, regardless of budget or scope, we need to approach all of our work strategically, with not only our clients’ best interests at hand, but also their customers.

As Jon explained in his last blog post, PR is changing. This isn’t the first time our industry has gone through a sea change and it won’t be the last. But as we were reminded in our APR studies, the fundamentals of our profession are more deeply rooted than any technology or trend, and so long as we continue to rely on those we—and our clients—will be fine.

Greg Surber

Greg Surber, APR, is a public relations strategist through and through. He works on a variety of accounts, leading research projects and content strategies, but he also has extensive experience with more traditional PR efforts including national and trade media relations campaigns.

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