National Capital Chapter

The APR Distinction

Nancy Plemens Mayes, APR (2003)
Owner/Principal, Blue Wagon Group

Back around 2001, life was looking like it might take me beyond Knoxville, Tenn.  I decided I needed a competitive advantage if I suddenly found myself in a larger job market, so I began the process of pursuing my “APR.”

APR, which stands for accreditation in public relations, is administered by the Universal Accreditation Board that oversees the process and standards for nine professional organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America. Attaining your APR is not for the impatient, nor the faint of heart. It’s a serious process involving study courses, submitting a portfolio of work, a presentation to a panel of APR peers, and a written exam. If you succeed, it’s cause for major celebration, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Some equate attaining your APR to an accountant becoming a CPA or a lawyer passing the bar exam. It signifies a commitment to your profession and a high level of knowledge and skills. The APR distinction unites professionals and conveys a standard of practice. When you hire someone who’s accredited, you immediately know – and can trust – their caliber and commitment to the profession.

Did it give me a competitive advantage when I found myself moving to the Washington, D.C. area in 2003? Yes. And it still does today. Clients of Blue Wagon Group are assured an experienced, knowledgeable professional is at the wheel.

Owner of Maple Avenue PR, Ami Neiberger, APR, says going through the APR accreditation process “filled in the gaps” in her knowledge base from her previous work experiences and non-pr college education.

“I was a good pr person before,” Neiberger explains. “Achieving accreditation helped me become a better, more strategic one.”

Dustin Cranor, APR, says his accreditation has served him in his career as he advanced to an executive leadership role.

“With my accreditation, I’m setting a strong example for my team,” says Cranor, vice president of global marketing and communications at Oceana. “They recognize I take my profession seriously and that it’s important to always be aiming to improve our craft.”

Recently Cranor and I worked together to hire an international pr agency to support an Oceana project in Central America. After considering several recommended firms, we ended up selecting one affiliated with PRSA and APR-led, feeling confident in that shared connection and mindset.

So when you’re ready to hire or promote a member of your team and/or collaborate with an agency, look for the APR accreditation. Know that it instantly translates to credibility. You, too, will benefit from the APR distinction.