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Setting Up Panel Presentations: A Step-by-Step Guide for APRs

When candidates seek to earn accreditation in public relations (APR), they must participate in a panel presentation that evaluates knowledge, skills and abilities not effectively judged in the computer-based examination. Any currently accredited professional can volunteer to help set up a panel presentation for an APR candidate. 

A panel comprises three current APRs, one of whom serves as the panel chair. But volunteering to coordinate the panel does not mean you have to serve on the panel. It just means you will make sure both the candidate and the panelists have what they need for a smooth process. 

Perhaps you are coordinating a panel for a candidate you have been mentoring, or someone in your region or organization has reached out for help with their panel presentation. Maybe you want to volunteer to set up or serve on a panel to earn points toward accreditation renewal.

Whatever your reasons, follow the steps below or watch the webinar “Panel Presentations Today: A How-To Guide for APRs and Candidates” to help set up a panel presentation for a candidate approved by the Universal Accreditation Board.

Steps to Set Up a Panel Presentation

Step 1: Check in with the candidate and schedule a phone call.

This is important because you want to be sure candidates will succeed. If you sense they are not ready, be honest and tell them. Questions to ask a candidate include:

  • Have you contacted your local SPRA chapter's APR chair and/or filled out the APR Panel Presentation Request Form for the Accreditation Committee?
  • How have you prepared for the panel presentation?
  • Is your questionnaire in draft form yet? If not, how close are you?
  • Do you have a case study to present? Please tell me about it.

Step 2: Ask the candidate about panel presentation preferences.

Find out if the candidate has preferred dates and times for the panel presentation. Discuss the candidate's preferences for presentation format. Since summer 2020, UAB has allowed for both virtual and in-person panel presentations. Consider that:

  • Virtual presentations may be more convenient because there are no travel costs involved and both panelists and the candidate have more scheduling flexibility.
  • In-person presentations may feel more comfortable because of the face-to-face interaction, but it may be harder to find enough panelists who are available and local or willing to travel.

Step 3: Seek three APRs willing to serve as panelists.

Determine if the panel will be in person or remote:

  • If remote, panelists can be from any region. You will just need to set up a virtual meeting space (Zoom, Google Meet, GotoMeeting, etc.).
  • If in person, you will need to secure a physical location. It can be a conference room or community room for example, but it should not be at the candidate's workplace. It could be held at a panelist’s workplace, though.

Panelists don’t have to work in school public relations. You can ask any APRs in your network to serve, whatever industry they work in. To find potential school PR panelists:

  • In the online NSPRA member directory, search to find members who are APRs by clicking on "edit search criteria," under "suffix" selecting any of the APR options and then clicking the "search" button; or
  • Reach out to your regional representative on the Accreditation Committee for help to find names.

Make sure there are no conflicts of interest. Panelists may know the candidate, but they should not have a professional relationship (e.g., boss/subordinate or client/consultant). If in doubt, contact Kathy Mulvihill, senior accreditation manager for the Universal Accreditation Board, at with questions.

Once you have identified three panelists, you will need to designate one panelist as the panel chair. The panel chair is responsible for moderating the panel and sending the scoring sheet and materials to Kathy Mulvihill at

Step 4: Identify a date and time for the panel that works for the three panelists and the candidate.

This can be the trickiest part, particularly if you are arranging an in-person panel presentation. When identifying a date and time, be sure the candidate and panelists allow 2-3 hours for the process. Send a calendar invite to everyone.

Step 5: Send a confirmation email/letter to the candidate.

The confirmation email/letter should inform the candidate of the date, time and (in person or virtual) place for the panel presentation. Include links to this information:

Give the candidate a deadline to get you a completed Candidate Questionnaire (DOC). You must provide the candidate's questionnaire to panelists no fewer than 15 business days prior to the panel.

Step 6: Send a confirmation email/letter to the panelists.

The confirmation email/letter should inform the panelists of the date, time and (in person or virtual) place for the panel presentation. Include links to this information:

View a sample letter to panelists (PDF).

Step 7: Send the candidate's questionnaire to the panelists.

Get the candidate's completed questionnaire to the panelists, via email or mail, no fewer than 15 business days prior to the panel. It can be included in your confirmation email/letter, as referenced in step 6, or sent separately.

Step 8: Check in with the panelists and the candidate before, during and after the panel presentation.

A few days before the scheduled panel presentation, send reminder emails to the panelists and to the candidate. Ask if they have any final questions. If needed, schedule a call with the panelists and/or the panel chair to make sure all of the APRs understand their roles and responsibilities.

On the day of the panel presentation, make yourself available to the three panelists in case any last-minute questions arise.

After the panel presentation is complete, check in with the panel chair to see how things went and make sure the chair turns the score sheets into Kathy Mulvihill/UAB at