Professionals Should Earn Accreditation
Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is a voluntary certification earned by practitioners from a national organization such as The Pubic Relations Society of America (PRSA). This certification demonstrates that they are committed to strict ethical values, enhancing the profession, and a desire to succeed. Its purpose is to identify and unify those who have shown broad knowledge, experience, and solid judgment in the field.
The value of earning APR status :
The value of accreditation does not involve a guaranteed job or higher pay, but what PR practitioners learn while earning their accreditation could result in just that.
“PR has a PR problem”
The public relations field does not have the best reputation. There has been plenty of PR campaigns that illustrate questionable ethics and deceptive practices, which in the end hurt the client as well as the PR organization. A good public service career comparison could be to lawyers, who have far from a respectable stigma. How would you feel about them if they had not passed the BAR exam and were not qualified professionals under standards set by a higher organization? Obviously this licensing is not required for PR practitioners to practice public relations, but in a field where personal values and morals can be compromised, it is reassuring to know there are accreditation programs that can provide reference to a PR practitioner’s knowledge and character. Or in other words, bring professionalism into an industry that can be considered less than professional.
Public Relations is not considered a licensed “profession” in the same sense as health care workers and lawyers, but accreditation programs are the major effort to improve standards and professionalism around the world.
If more PR practitioners go through the process to earn their accreditation, it will strengthen the public’s trust in the profession. Today only 5,000 practitioners have earned APR status.
3 ways PRSA can make accreditation more important to business leaders:
1. Show PR organizations ways that lack of professionalism can harm their organization, their client, or the publics trust in the profession. By providing real life examples of harmful incidents and then posting the stories weekly on PRSA’s website or they could be spoken about at meetings. Then reiterating the fact that these incidents would be less likely to happen if business leaders hire APR certified PR professionals over non certified applicants.
2. Make it a requirement to write APR after a signature or title. For example signing your name with CPA or MD displayed. Display the title with pride, so clients and others can see it. This will stir up more competition in the work place and perhaps make clients wonder who is the better PR practitioner.
3. The PRSA could offer special events for APR holders only. Providing networking opportunities, sweepstakes, scholarships, and just opening doors in general. Eventually other PR practitioners will want to find out what special opportunities they are missing out on.