This may be considered blasphemy by some, but I’ll ask anyway.
As a former member of PRSA, I’ve been very active in several chapters during my career. In Chicago, I co-directed that chapter’s “Young Professional Network” for some time and created it’s Brown Bag Development Workshops. In Charlotte, N.C., I developed that chapter’s first mentoring program and also served as a go-to consultant for the directors of the chapter’s young professionals group. And, I was gung-ho about getting my APR accreditation some day.
But the desire for a comma and those three capital letters after my name has waned a bit in recent years. Maybe it’s because I rarely make PRSA meetings these days since they’re an hour round-trip away from the office. (One of the disadvantages to living in a three-city market that shares one PRSA chapter)
I think, though, there are other reasons why I’m wondering if APR still holds weight.
First, I’ve met, talked to and worked with many people who have their APR accreditation. Let me tell you, there are people running around with APR after their names who aren’t incredibly competent in the day-to-day work in this field. Don’t get me wrong. Many are. But having those letters behind your name doesn’t make you a PR swami, I’ve learned.
Second, I’ve met, talked to and worked with many people who DON’T have their APR accreditation. Let me tell you, there are a lot of incredibly smart and passionate PR pros among them who give their sweat and blood for the industry and their clients. And they’re well-respected among their peers.
Third, I’ve never had a potential employer ask whether or not I’ve obtained or plan to obtain my APR.
Fourth, I’ve never met a client for the first time who asked anything about whether or not I have my APR. They ask lots of questions about past experiences, past clients I’ve worked with, strengths, etc., but nothing about accreditation.
So I’m wondering if APR means as much as it’s made out to mean these days. For the record, I’m all for professional development, training and working to become the best practitioner you can. I think PRSA does a great job connecting professionals and offering ways for us all to get smarter about the business. I’m not sure, though, that APR is the highest mark of excellence in the PR practice that is necessary to prove you’re a kick-ass pro, as some have made it out to be. Doesn’t your body of great work tell that story, too?
What do you think? Is APR just a distinction these days? Does it actually mean you’re smarter than non-accredited peers? Would employers really not consider a really smart pro with an excellent track record because they don’t have their APR?
*PRSA logo from prsa.org.