How important is it to have these three letters after your name? If you are a committed PR professional, you have probably thought about acquiring your accreditation. If you're like me, after almost two decades on the PR side, along with being a mother and entrepreneur, hitting the books at this point is very unlikely. I don't need an APR (Accredited Public Relations) to validate me or my work, which I think speaks for itself. I'd rather work at breaking a 100 on the golf course, than go back to school! But that's just me!
I have two Vice Presidents, who both coincidentally have their accreditation in PR . How great is that! You know what? I didn't hire either of them because of it. It was icing on the cake. I'm proud of them and know they are committed to the profession and will support them if they pursue their ABC (Accredited Business Communicator) designation as well.
But frankly, I personally know less than ten people with an APR or an ABC and I'm not convinced of the difference it makes in hiring or to clients. I've been in new business presentations where I proudly showcase that I have two senior staff members with an APR and prospects look completely blasé. Outside our industry, most people don't know what it is.
I'm not saying it's a terrible thing to have or a waste of time to acquire it, but how relevant is this designation? Do you get more money? Does it mean you're smarter than everyone else? Does it open more doors? Do you have better ethical standards than someone without it? Or is it simply a case of self-achievement and personal growth? I think the latter makes the most sense to me.
I asked several senior PR folks in Toronto what they thought of the APR designation. One company president, who does not have an APR and runs a mid sized PR firm in Toronto, said " it's a great thing to point to, but at the end of the day, makes no difference." When I asked whether she will go for it, she quipped "at my age, no . What if I take the exam and fail .... Wouldn't that be embarrassing?" I couldn't agree more. Do I need a test to prove to my colleagues that I know what the RACE formula stands for?
If CPRS or IABC wants to see accreditated numbers rise, they need to promote the crap out of it! I worked six and a half years with a large multinational agency and my boss never once told me to get one . Never pushed me or said it would help my career . And guess what? She's accredited! Perhaps they should make accreditation mandatory to move beyond a certain step in your professional career. It will do several things : elevate the profession ; validate our line of work ; and "up the ante" on salaries and billable rates. Right now, accreditation is voluntary, somewhat inconsistent in its testing and a hit and miss as far as value. However, I for one would support mandatory accreditation -- if given strong enough reasons.
More to the point, I can't remember the last time I saw any editorial on the subject. For a profession that prides itself on "getting ink" we do a lousy job at espousing the credibility of our occupation and the importance of an APR or ABC.