#APR2012: The value in being accredited in public relations – an in-house advisor’s and a consultant’s perspective.

Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is an international qualification that is a mark of distinction and demonstrates commitment to the profession and to its ethical practice.

PRINZ takes pride in running the six-month long APR programme  in New Zealand, where candidates are assessed on assignments, written exam and a viva voce with senior practitioners. Candidates are also provided with mentors, seminars and networking opportunities for support through the programme. Each year graduates join a select group of accredited member practitioners who reflect the growing dedication to professional PR practice.

2011 graduates Adrienne Schwartfeger (Environment Canterbury) and Rachel Blundell (Core Communications) talk about their experience of the programme and what having the APR title means to them.

Adrienne Schwartfeger, Internal Communications Advisor, Environment Canterbury:

Adrienne Schwartfeger

Having worked for over 15 years in varying communications roles in a variety of industry sectors (Local and Regional Government, Crown Entity and Corporate), the chance to step out of the everyday busyness to refresh my skills, fill any knowledge gaps and reinforce what I currently do was valuable.

APR is a personal development opportunity with a strong emphasis on the principles of PR and communications as well as the Code of Ethics under which we operate as PRINZ members. The assignments were useful, the concentrated nature of the programme made it achievable while still working, and the mix of workshops and seminars was a bonus. What I also liked was the opportunity to hear from colleagues about their experiences. A mentor provided valuable guidance and although APR seems tough at the time, it’s a great feeling at the end when you’ve achieved it.

My current role in regional government sees me operating in a specialised area of PR, but I’m still required to understand the entire complex situation. Therefore I enjoyed the opportunity to thoroughly critique all ‘body of knowledge’ areas – some in which I had expertise and others which were not so familiar. It allowed me the time to step back and evaluate what I was doing; not only the quality of the PR advice I provided, but also how I measured the success of my work. It’s easy to cast aside elements such as measurement and debriefing when operating in what seems a time-deprived environment.

Should a practitioner do it? Absolutely. Is it challenging and rewarding? Absolutely. Did it have relevance and add value to my role today? Most definitely and I am a better practitioner for having achieved APR.

Rachel Blundell, Senior Account Manager, Core Communications Ltd:

Rachel Blundell

I embarked last year on the APR accreditation process – which seeks to enhance and expand your PR body of knowledge – after hearing a colleague’s positive experience a few years previous.

The structured programme covers six key areas of the industry, giving consultants the opportunity to look beyond the hurry of everyday client servicing into areas of PR they might like to pursue in the future.

I found the workshops and presentations, with senior practitioners sharing their experiences ‘in the trenches,’ particularly valuable.

APR gives consultants the opportunity to receive an objective and impartial assessment of their day to day practice.  Most of us are unlikely to have received such an assessment since our studying days, which was also my case as a graduate of AUT’s Bachelor of Communication Studies.We often receive feedback from our clients, our colleagues and our bosses and these outtakes are useful for improving the quality of our services. However, I found the APR assignment feedback to be particularly useful as a summary of strengths and skills, as well as potential areas needing improvement.

A common query I’ve found among consultants considering APR is the time commitment required. Yes, it certainly does take time, but then if it was quick and easy everyone would do it. The hours spent achieving your APR proves not only a dedication and professionalism to the public relations industry to the benefit your own career, but a strengthening of the expertise and commitment you bring to your clients, present and future.

The 2012 APR applications close on Friday, 18 May. To find out more about the programme or to apply, click here.

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