by Elisabeth Handler, APR, Handler PR, elisabethhandler @ yahoo.com; and David Vossbrink, APR, david.vossbrink @ sanjoseca.gov
First, the disclaimer: we’ve been PRSA members since before computers came into our business. We’ve been accredited for more than 20 years. We’ve helped coach APR candidates in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley. So we’re not “neutral” on the subject of professional accreditation.
That said, we’ve observed, talked with, and researched the experience of others who have pursued accreditation, and we have found very specific benefits that come from just the preparation for the APR designation, never mind going through the Readiness Review and the subsequent computer-based exam.
There’s more than sheer instinct behind good PR; our profession is based on theory as well as practical experience. There’s a reason for setting goals and strategies before you come up with specific tactics. You can put research into a plan without asking your client to double the fee. And, understanding communications theory makes every public relations initiative more targeted – and cost-effective too.
This does not mean that having “APR” after your name guarantees your promotion or that you’ll be hired for ever-more exciting jobs. We aren’t quite there yet in terms of public perception of what accreditation means. But as a result of the APR process, you’ll refine skills and techniques that can radically amp up how you frame the issues, identify communications opportunities, influence budget allocations, and deliver true returns on investment for clients and employers. And that’s a solid recipe for career success and satisfaction!
Most of us have encountered negative perceptions of “PR” and wished we had a snappy comeback to show that our jobs are more than flackery. A professional accreditation works wonders – where would mere “bean counters” be without their CPAs?
Most of us in our careers have been faced with moments of discomfort, when we get that sinking gut feeling that the front office is heading toward an ethical swamp. With the knowledge and confidence that comes from your study of PR ethical dilemmas through the decades, you can speak truth to power with counter arguments and better alternatives for achieving the desired results without crossing the ethical lines. That can save your company, and your job!
The accreditation process can be a challenge, especially for those of us who haven’t cracked open a text book in decades, but it is an amazing experience that can enrich your whole attitude towards your profession and your current job. And best of all, you’ll have support from the entire PRSA Silicon Valley chapter along the way!
For more information and a chat about your interest in working towards your APR, reach out to one of the co-chairs of the PRSA-Silicon Valley Accreditation Committee:
Elisabeth Handler, APR: (408) 309-1298: elisabethhandler @ yahoo.com
David Vossbrink, APR: (408) 535-8170; david.vossbrink @ sanjoseca.gov