As the accreditation chair for NCPRSA (North Carolina Public Relations Society of America), our local PRSA chapter, I have been asked many times whether or not getting the APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) is really worth it. My answer in a word: absolutely. This has been a hot topic of conversation as some organizations hold the APR in very high regard (even making it a requirement for employees), while others don’t place the same level of importance on the credential. Having just gone through the process myself, I can confidently say it was a worthwhile experience that has positively impacted my career.
After spending the past 11 years in an agency, I understand that the day-to-day workload demands and other responsibilities of life make the thought of pursuing an APR a bit daunting. While achieving it is certainly doable while working full time, it is a time commitment. If you are on the fence in deciding whether or not to commit to the process, here are a few arguments to help make the decision a little easier.
- Advancing the profession – Accreditation helps boost our industry’s overall image and increases individual professionalism.
- Setting yourself apart – I have heard from many PR professionals that they take a closer look at resumes with an APR credential, as it shows that the applicant has taken the extra step and demonstrates the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities.
- Committing to constant improvement – Whether you are in the early stages of your career or a seasoned vet, professional development is critically important. For me, the APR process helped highlight my strengths, as well as identify areas of weakness where I needed to focus a bit more. Aside from the letters beside my name, going through the APR process made me think about things differently and ultimately made me a better counselor.
- Who couldn’t use a little extra money – There is some research that suggests it may increase your pay grade. Anecdotally, I have heard the same thing from Raleigh PR agency owners and corporate communications professionals.
In the end, whether or not you choose to pursue an APR is a decision only you can make, but I have yet to meet someone who has been through the process and did not feel that he or she benefited from it in some way. I encourage you to reach out to your local PRSA chapter accreditation chair for advice and support (if you are in the Raleigh area that would be me!). The APR chair can also connect you with other people in your area who are going through the process, as well, which can be a great support network.
Best of luck!