Public relations practitioners serious about their careers should consider taking the accreditation examination offered by the Public Relations Society of America. Passing the exam can help members when competing for employment. Accredited members also earn an average of 43 percent more than non-accredited members .
The APR – Accredited in Public Relations – designation is the standard of excellence for members of the Public Relations Society of America. APR is the mark of distinction for PR professionals who demonstrate their commitment to the profession and its ethical practice. This professional certification recognizes those practitioners who have demonstrated competency in the knowledge, skills and abilities required to effectively practice public relations in today’s competitive arena.
These professionals are selected based upon their broad knowledge, strategic perspective and sound judgment as demonstrated by successfully passing the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations. The accreditation program is administered locally, but is overseen by a Universal Accreditation Board made up of representatives from PRSA and eight other professional PR organizations.
Eligibility. Any member in good standing of PRSA or its eight partner organizations may take on the challenge of earning accreditation. It is recommended, however, that candidates have at least five years experience in the full-time practice or teaching of public relations, and have either a bachelor’s degree in a communications field or equivalent work experience.
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities Tested. Professional competencies tested in the computer-based accreditation exam include:
Chapter Assistance. The Pikes Peak Chapter is prepared to assist its members interested in earning PRSA accreditation. This includes a six-week workshop designed to prepare candidates for the APR exam and the loan of a current public relations text, Public Relations Strategies and Tactics, by Wilcox and Cameron. Taught by Chapter Accreditation Chair Fred Morgan, APR, Fellow PRSA, the workshop guides candidates through the material needed to prepare for the exam. The workshop is offered in the evening for six consecutive weeks with each session lasting about two and one-half hours. It is designed to supplement the reading and individual study required through the presentation of additional material and discussion among candidates. Cost of the workshop is $50, payable to the Pikes Peak Chapter.
Cost. The exam cost is $385, payable to the Universal Accreditation Board. PRSA members receive a $110 rebate upon completion of the computer-based examination. Those who fail the exam may retake it at any time, provided they notify the Universal Accreditation Board in advance. The fee for a retake is $200 and must be completed within six months. No rebates apply for retakes.
1. Notify the chapter accreditation chair that you are ready to pursue accreditation. Be prepared to discuss the process, ask any questions that you may have and, if interested, sign up to participate in one of the chapter’s group study workshops. Fred Morgan can be reached by calling 719-488-8352 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Submit an application to the Universal Accreditation Board (www.praccreditation.org). This starts the formal process and lets the board gauge your full-time PR experience. Once your application is approved, you have one year to complete the Readiness Review and take the computer-based examination.
3. Study for the exam on your own, by signing up for PRSA’s online APR study course ($195) and/or by participating in one of the chapter’s group study workshops. A list of texts recommended to candidates for accreditation is available on the PRSA website, www.prsa.org/learning/accreditation. Links to additional APR information, applications, etc. are available on the right side of this website page.
4. Schedule a Readiness Review with the chapter accreditation chair. This involves completion of a Readiness Review Questionnaire that addresses your current employer and PR position, overall experience and your grasp of the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to pass the comprehensive exam. The Readiness Review requires the preparation of a portfolio and a presentation for use while participating in the one- to two-hour, face-to-face meeting conducted by three accredited chapter members.
5. Schedule and take the three-hour, 45-minute computer-based examination at a Prometric testing center. The Universal Accreditation Board will provide each candidate a personal ID number for use in scheduling the test via the Prometric website at www.prometric.com or telephone 1-800-274-1900. The Colorado Springs testing center is located at 2790 N. Academy Blvd., Suite 238 (80907).
Testing Results. Accreditation candidates will receive immediate but unofficial pass/fail feedback following the exam in addition to a listing of their strengths and weaknesses in tested knowledge, skills and abilities. The official pass/fail notice will be received from the Universal Accreditation Board within two to four weeks.
Use of APR Brand. Once accredited by the Universal Accreditation Board, PRSA members may use “APR” or “Accredited in Public Relations” after their name on business cards and correspondence. The APR is a lifetime accreditation, provided members remain in good standing and complete maintenance requirements once every three years.
Additional Information. Additional information is available on the PRSA website, www.prsa.org/learning/accreditation or the Universal Accreditation Board’s website, www.praccreditation.org. Or you can contact Chapter Accreditation Chair Fred Morgan at email@example.com (telephone 719-488-8352) or Kathy Mulvihill, PRSA’s accreditation manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter Workshop Schedule. APR workshops are normally conducted once per year. The next one is scheduled to begin in February 2013.
October 8, 2012