National Capital Chapter

Demystifying the APR Panel Presentation

By Barbara Burfeind, APR+M, Fellow PRSA

Only about 19 percent of PRSA members have achieved “accredited” status according to the PRSA Member Directory, but those who have regard the APR as one of their highest career achievements. The APR credential demonstrates your strategic and ethical practice of public relations. The process is a two-part program consisting of an exam and Panel Presentation.

The APR process begins with submitting an application and digging into your study materials. Keep in mind that once you receive the eligibility notification from the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), you’ll have one year to complete the exam and Panel Presentation. The Panel Presentation, formerly called the “Readiness Review,” is meant to assess your knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) and can be the most daunting part of earning your APR.

In its simplest form, the Panel Presentation is you summarizing a public relations plan you’ve developed using the research, planning, implementation and evaluation (RPIE) four-step process. Like a case study, the best approach to organizing the presentation is to start at the beginning of the process and take the panelists through the program.

Some communication plans can fall short or are missing key parts and have room for improvement. All too often the communication plans briefed do not follow the RPIE framework. No worries! Using the case study approach allows you to take the plan and point out the gaps or needed changes. Take this opportunity to explain what you would have done differently based on what you’ve learned in your APR studies. Maybe you would have done different research or used different tactics. Knowing what you’ve now learned through your studies, maybe you would improve or rewrite the measurable objectives for your campaign, since goals and objectives are often confused and used synonymously.

Like many things, COVID-19 took Panel Presentations virtual in 2020 and that’s expected to continue in 2021. Asking an APR/APR+M to be your mentor can also help you prepare for your panel presentation. Have your mentor review your questionnaire and provide guidance on your panel presentation—they’re there to help you!

Working on your APR now? This video from PRSA can help you visualize what your Panel Presentation may be like.

Have questions about the APR or interested in getting started? Our Accreditation and Continuing Education Committee would be happy to help! Email them here.

Barbara Burfeind is a communication consultant, strategic planner, mentor and trainer. Her expertise includes a Public Affairs career in the U.S. Navy and then as a government civilian working in strategic communication and visual information policy. She has a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, and a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma.

Ms. Burfeind received her Accredited in Public Relations + Military Communication (APR+M) in 2010 and was the 2011 APR+M Council chair. She has been a chapter board member, APR committee chair, 2009 National Capital Chapter president and was inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows in October 2012, recognizing her career contributions to public relations.