Understanding the Shared Value of the APR

Each September, PRSA celebrates Ethics Month, featuring programs presented by the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS). This year’s theme is “Leading With Ethics.” Please join the discussion on Twitter via #EthicsMonth, and follow along with our ethics-related blog posts, as well as two webinars (on Sept. 9 and Sept. 21) and a new Ethics Quiz

In some ways, our relationships are triggered by shared experiences. The pandemic has created a unique culture and, for some of us, that means binge-watching. Just ask someone what streaming platforms and media they turned to during the pandemic, and you will get a host of answers. When you find show or movie that you can relate to, you want to share it.

This shared experience can help lead to a social connection, which research shows is crucial for cultivating a sense of belonging.

Being part of a membership organization that is almost 75 years old, like PRSA, helps us cultivate a sense of belonging. For many, we opt to further that relationship by attaining an Accreditation in Public Relations or APR. Often labeled as the “gold standard” of certification, the APR helps us align our affiliation to PRSA.

Through the APR, we learn the history of our profession and the backbone of ethical practice, and we delve further into models, theories and methodologies. We study and learn each of our values to include how to practice with appropriate advocacy, honesty (in all that we do), expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness. Each facet of knowledge helps us to understand the science behind informing, persuading and integrating with people, as well as understanding of ethical decision-making.

Attaining the APR isn’t an easy feat. It takes time, practice and commitment, but the rigors of earning the Accreditation have become a shared value. It’s an added step we dedicate ourselves to within our practice.

The APR is a diverse nomenclature in and of itself. The APR credential was established in 1964 as a certification program sponsored by PRSA. In 1998, the Universal Accreditation Board was established — consisting of approximately 25 representatives from nine major PR professional societies who embrace the certification of the APR. This move allowed the credential of the APR to become an industry-wide certification among numerous accreditation bodies. It is a viable option to any who wish to pursue it.

When I received my APR, I was working at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix. At these government-run hospitals, identification badges — including names, photos and departments — are a requirement for all staff. At the time, I was working among a sea of credentialed members — M.D., D.O., D.P.M., D.D.S., M.S.W., R.N., M.B.A., you get the drift. Having the APR behind my name immediately sparked conversations among my colleagues.

When they learned about the gauntlet I crossed to achieve the certification, the sense of value in our profession was imminent. Shortly after my Accreditation, I went on to earn numerous accolades for my work both inside and outside government. I owe most of those accolades to the science, reasoning and  ethical decision-making that are shared teachings of the APR.

As we celebrate Ethics Month, I hope you will consider deciding to pursue the shared value of the APR. I believe it is worth the journey!

Paula Pedene, APR, Fellow PRSA, is CEO/owner at Paula Pedene & Associates.

[Illustration credit: bakhtiarzein]

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