Most of us in the PR and Marketing business know that it stands for "Accredited in Public Relations," and it's a respected designation in the field. Many excellent practitioners have the initials behind their name, and in some circles, it truly is the difference between your job and "your dream job."
About five years ago, I took the class my local chapter offered to prepare to take the test to obtain my APR. At the time it was a personal goal, and I'd be lying if I said if obtaining it wasn't still in the back of my mind. It is. But about that same time in my life, things in my professional life turned sideways. Social media moved across the horizon, and for me, it became my North Star. There's not much in the traditional APR exam that deals with my specialty.
This is symptomatic of PRSA's struggle as an organization to wrap its head around how social media affects both the practice and the need for public relations in our society. While I appreciate the effort to modernize, organizations like Ragan's Communications "PR Daily" and HARO are stepping into the void between the vaunted "APR, PRSA Fellow crowd" and the everyday practitioner. The cost to attend the PRSA International Conference is prohibitive and free PRSA webinars are rare. I don't know about you, but after paying my dues, I am tapped out financially. The hefty fee for the APR application itself does not help, especially for people like me who'd be paying it out of my own pocket.
Last year at PRSA Assembly, the possibility of having non-APR officers was shot down. Not surprising, since the majority of those who attend have the designation themselves. But it makes me wonder, how many could pass a truly updated and modern exam?
This morning, I had a lively conversation on Twitter with several Central Iowa PR practitioners and a student from the University of Iowa. All are successful in their own right, one even has the designation himself, but all the experienced practitioners agreed that experience is a more reliable indicator of success in the PR field. As long as the APR designation remains a job requirement for PR executives, it will remain a valid qualification, but as I tweeted this morning, none of my PR plans have started with the words, "Back in 1920, when Edward Bernays taught women how to smoke..."
My point? The history of public relations not as important as its future. What's your opinion? Please leave a comment and share. Thanks for reading.