Accreditation: Be a PR Leader and Earn Your APR
Internationally recognized, Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) integrates timeless communication principles with contemporary strategies and tactics. The process of earning your APR takes your skills to the next level by exposing you to today's cutting-edge strategies and practices, assessing your skills to identify strengths and opportunities for growth, and demonstrating your personal and professional commitment to excellence. Pursuing the APR gives you direct access to top public relations leaders - APR holders who will guide you through the process of achieving Accreditation - and provides the tools you need to distinguish yourself as a luminary in the public relations field.
The Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) administers the process for becoming Accredited in Public Relations (APR) for its Participating Organizations, which include NSPRA. Detailed information about the Examination for Accreditation and application form to become a candidate for accreditation may be obtained from the UAB website at www.praccreditation.org/apply/.
History From 1976 until 1998, NSPRA conducted a professional development program that awarded Accredited in School Public Relations (ASPR) status to 139 members who passed rigorous written and oral tests on public relations theory and the practice of school public relations. On January 1, 1999, at the urging of its members and with approval from the NSPRA Executive Board, NSPRA closed its ASPR program and became one of the eight public relations organizations participating in the Universal Accreditation Program. The other participating organizations are the Agricultural Relations Council, Florida Public Relations Association, Maine Public Relations Council, Public Relations Society of America, Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development, Southern Public Relations Federation, and Texas Public Relations Association. Here are answers to some of the most-asked questions about the Universal Accreditation program:
What is Universal Accreditation? A voluntary certification program for public relations professionals, recognized and supported by the above Participating Organizations.
What is the purpose of Universal Accreditation? The purpose is to unify and advance the profession by identifying those who have demonstrated broad knowledge, experience and professional judgment in the field. The program seeks to improve public relations practice. The designation Accredited in Public Relations (APR) signifies a high professional level of experience and competence.
Who governs the process? The Universal Accreditation Board - comprised of one chairman and representatives from each participating organization dedicated to three-year terms - oversees the program. Providing a balanced blend of backgrounds in a number of public relations specialties, this group of senior-level Accredited members meets four times a year. Responsibilities of the Universal Accreditation Board include the following:
- Develops and implements policy for the program
- Develops and maintains the Accreditation examination
- Oversees the development of test questions, answer keys, and ensures content is based on the Body of Knowledge
- Reviews appeal cases
- Grants Accreditation
Who is eligible? Members (who hold professional-level memberships) of Participating Organizations who are involved in the professional practice of public relations, or in the teaching or administration of public relations courses in an accredited college or university. It is recommended that members of participating organizations have at least five years of paid, full-time experience in the professional practice of public relations in some capacity as the examination is targeted at this level.
What does the Examination for Accreditation process entail? Interested individuals must first apply to the UAB to become accepted as candidates for Accreditation. Once approved, candidates have one year to complete the process, otherwise they must reapply. The process requires candidates to first complete a Readiness Review Questionnaire and then present a portfolio to a Readiness Review Panel, comprised of three Accredited professionals. The Panel will ask questions, review the portfolio and assess the candidate's professionalism and readiness to advance to the written examination based on their knowledge of 16 core competencies. The Readiness Review component is designed to help candidates strengthen areas of weakness for further study before taking the written exam. Candidates who are not advanced can request mentoring from their Panel before scheduling another Readiness Review. Once candidates have been advanced by the Readiness Review Panel they may take the written portion of the exam at any Prometric testing facility around the country. Candidates schedule their own written exams with a Prometric facility.
What's in the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations? The Examination tests 10 groupings of competencies, or Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) that were identified through the UAB's landmark 2000 Practice Analysis. This analysis identified more than 60 subsets of KSAs that are critical to successful public relations practice.
Is Accreditation good for life? Yes, with fulfillment of Maintenance of Accreditation requirements and continued professional members in a Participating Organization. Every three years, Accredited professionals must accumulate the required number of points in continuing education, professionalism or service categories as part of the Maintenance of Accreditation Program. This further strengthens the value of the APR credential and keeps professionals actively involved in the currents of the public relations profession. (Note: members of Participating Organizations who became accredited prior to January 1, 1998 through previous individual accreditation processes, such as NSPRA's ASPR program, are exempt from the Maintenance requirement.)
What is the fee to take the examination? The fee for NSPRA Members is $385. NSPRA members who take the APR exam under NSPRA (not as members of their local PRSA chapter) will receive a reimbursement of $110 if they successfully pass the exam (limited to the first 20 candidates each year due to budget considerations). Successful candidates are also presented with their APR pin at the annual Seminar in July.
Who do I contact for more information? For more information, contact NSPRA Associate Director Karen H. Kleinz, APR, at 301-519-0496; firstname.lastname@example.org