I am a fan of Kami Huyse, so when she forms a strong opinion on something, I give it serious consideration (or more often, I’ll just blindly follow her lead; it is easier). Kami recently blogged about the benefits of accreditation for PR pros, and on this front I’ll politely disagree.
PLEASE NOTE that I have tons of respect for many, many folks who did go through the trouble of getting their APR credentials. I also want to say that I agree with Kami (and Scott Baradell, and Richard Edelman) that PR has a PR problem.
But I don’t think that accreditation will improve the perception of PR pros — does a law degree convince us that lawyers are honest? More importantly I think that:
- Accreditation only legitimizes one organization’s (the PRSA) view of what is entailed by "Public Relations." In this dawning era of new media, the PR person’s role is (thankfully!) more fluid and unknown than ever. This fluidity is an opportunity, one that would be quashed by force-fitting PR pros into the required learning & roles defined by a standards body. (I also think that the "institutional thinking" of the PRSA has made the organization woefully slow to consider the ramifications of the 2.0 phenomenon, but, that’s fodder for another post.)
- Mandatory accreditation would raise unnecessary barriers to young people interested in "trying out" the PR profession. Lots of new graduates are ambitious about their career path, but not necessarily eager to think about studying for a huge exam that will need to be taken 5 years later to prove that they "get it." We need to motivate more entrants, if anything: I’d rather grease the skids than raise unnecessary barriers. (Besides, anyone got any stats on how gaining your APR credential impacts your salary or employment prospects?)
I look across the landscape of my own agency, which employs 75-odd (truly odd) PR people nationwide, all of ‘em stars that I admire. None have "APR" affixed to their business cards, yet there’s not a single one whom I wouldn’t trust to give solid PR counsel to a client. I think it is up to each agency to train its people to show "competency in the knowledge, skills and abilities required to practice public relations effectively in today’s business arena."
Posted on: August 31, 2006 at 10:27 am By Todd Defren