Q: Why should I pursue accreditation?
A: Attaining accreditation is an important milestone in the career of a public relations practitioner. It recognizes personal achievement, experience and competence in the field and, as such, is an important measure of success and self-awareness. The accreditation program is CPRS' contribution toward developing and maintaining high professional standards of its members.
It's a personal challenge that can help you realize your professional strengths, abilities, and growth. It is both personally and professionally rewarding.
Judi Gunter, APR offers the following reasons for gaining your APR:
- Confront your imposter syndrome
- Benchmark you knowledge and experience
- Put what you know and have experienced into context
- It's a learning experience
- Freshen your credentials
- Join the top ranks
- Designation is recognized by PR professionals around the world
- Ice-breaker... start a conversation by answering, "What does your APR stand for?"
- The older you get, the greater the expectation that you have your APR
Q: What's the difference between the IABC and CPRS accreditation programs?
A: Specific information can be found on each society's website. The most significant differences are:
- CPRS candidates are eligible after five years of work experience; IABC candidates are eligible after seven years.
- CPRS candidates must submit a work example based on one project; IABC requests that you submit a portfolio showing the breadth of your work.
Q: No one really knows what accreditation means outside the profession. Why should I bother?
A: People may not know that APR means Accredited in Public Relations, but if you tell them you've earned a professional designation through an accreditation process, they will understand that.
CPRS is trying to raise the profile of the APR designation. There's a national accreditation task force working on improving the entire process and outcomes in general. Your accreditation chair can tell you about the committee's current projects and initiatives.
Pursuing accreditation is as much a personal challenge as it is an external designation of achievement. Lack of awareness by some should not diminish the value of pursuing high standards and excellence in public relations practice.
Q: How long is the process?
A: The process takes just over a year from the time you apply until your results are known. Please see the accreditation schedule for more information.
Q: What does it involve?
A: Accreditation is a three-step process. Candidates submit an application and work sample, and do a written exam and an oral exam. The local accreditation chair helps the National Office identify eligible candidates, and helps those candidates through the process. S/he also sets up the written and oral exams in concert with the Regional Examiner, the Chief Examiner and CPRS National Office.
Q: How do I know if I'm eligible?
A: You are eligible if:
- you have been employed full-time in a public relations position or have owned for at least five years your own public relations business (equivalent work credit up to six months may be awarded for a public relations practicum or co-operative education experience successfully completed while attending a recognized college or university);
- you spend at least half of your professional time involved with specific public relations activities; and
- you are a member in good standing of the Canadian Public Relations Society.
The National Office sends eligibility letters each September. If you think you are eligible but have not received a confirmation letter, please contact your local accreditation chair.
Q: Is the process confidential?
A: Absolutely. Your participation in the process can remain entirely confidential right up until the time you write your exams. (Candidates take their written exam together.) Only those doing the evaluation, the Chief Examiner and the CPRS National Office know the results of work examples, the written exams and the oral interviews.
Q: Why do I have to be a member of CPRS to use my APR designation?
A: CPRS owns the rights to the APR designation and can therefore set the standards for its use. The APR designation is recognition of effective public relations capabilities and current membership in CPRS.
Q: Is Accreditation Maintenance mandatory?
A: No, the by-laws were amended at the June 2002 Annual General Meeting. Accreditation Maintenance is now voluntary.
Q: Where can I find out more information?
A: From the CPRS National Web site or from members of the accreditation committee:
"Completing my APR was about more than just recognition by my peers, although that was a great side benefit. Rather, it was an opportunity for me to look inside myself and become acutely aware of my own experience. As well, going through the preparation process helped me cement my knowlede of the profession while learning about areas of the business I hadn't yet been exposed to. It is an achievement I am very proud of, and one that provides others with a degree of confidence in my skill set." Shawn Davis, APR, Senior Advisor, Corporate Communications, Suncor Energy Inc.