National Capital Chapter

The many faces of APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) professionals

by Barbara Burfeind, APR+M, PRSA Fellow 

During the month of April we highlight the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) and APR+M (Military Communication) programs.  Currently, with so many people teleworking from home, and many finding some additional free time, this may be the opportunity for you to explore pursuing your APR or APR+M.

Why get the APR?  Here are my top reasons:

  • Jobs – APR sets you apart; it shows you are motivated to improve your skills. Employers like the idea of a standard for PR, and that the certification represented meeting that standard.
  • Professional development – Accreditation is a professional development opportunity for our entire career field. APR gave me more insight into unfamiliar areas of the profession.  APR was also more affordable than a master’s degree. The cost (about $400), and of course the time you put into the process is a fraction of what a master’s degree will cost you.
  • Strategic perspective – APR taught me about communication theories, research, strategic planning and evaluation, which I later applied to my Navy and civilian public affairs jobs. My value to the organization increased since I understood the need for results and a return on investment.
  • Professional network – My instructors and fellow APRs/APR+Ms became my professional resource for career questions, expertise in unfamiliar areas, and the opportunity to hear how others handled their challenges and issues. I started my APR journey as a Navy Public Affairs Officer when I was assigned as a Defense Information School (DINFOS) public affairs instructor.  My two supervisors were teaching APR classes for the National Capital Chapter (NCC) in Washington, D.C.  Then Army Majors David Medaris (Fish & Wildlife Service program analyst) and Bob Hastings (Executive Vice President, Communications & Government, Bell Helicopter and former DoD Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs) were my co-instructors for the course.  I have been mentored and guided by both throughout my career.
  • Leadership — Once you earn the APR designation, you are required to maintain your accreditation. I volunteered to work on the chapter’s accreditation committee, and then was asked to be the APR committee chair.  Others and myself conducted APR Jump Start classes and sat on APR and APR+M panels. I learned so much from these experiences!


If you are interested in either the APR or the APR+M, go to:



About the Author

Barbara Burfeind, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, is a skilled communicator, strategic planner, manager, trainer, and mentor. Her more than 30 years experience included a Public Affairs career in the U.S. Navy, and as a government civilian. Ms. Burfeind was the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) National Capital Chapter 2009 president. She received her Accredited in Public Relations + Military Communication (APR+M) in 2010 and was the 2011 APR+M Council chair. She was inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows in October 2012, recognizing her career contributions to public relations.  She has a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, and a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma.