Doctors take medical boards, lawyers take the bar exam and accountants take certification exams. Our PR equivalent is the APR designation. Meaning “Accredited in Public Relations,” this certification recognizes a proficiency level accorded to “professionals.”
Chester Burger, APR, Fellow PRSA, states, “Professionalism is much more than the practice of integrity in relationships with clients. It is an attitude, not a set of facts to learn. Usually we recognize it in other professions, such as law or medicine or accounting, more easily than we identify it in the field of our life work, public relations.” And Burger notes that the equivalent of correct medical diagnosis is an understanding of a client’s problem and how to address it with public relations objectives.
The Universal Accreditation Board of PRSA has recently undertaken a process of revising the APR exam. Now candidates prepare a readiness review document that allows them to present a campaign they’ve worked on and its success. This document is sent in advance to three oral examiners (accredited members of PRSA in good standing). The APR chair of the PRSA chapter schedules a readiness review meeting of at least one hour. The candidate comes prepared to both discuss the prepared document as well as a portfolio he/she has developed. After the “oral exam” the examiners vote to determine whether candidates should go on to take the written exam. The written exam is now a multiple-choice test that can be taken at testing centers nationwide.