Group – in case you haven’t heard, the National Board has proposed an amendment to the By-Laws that would remove the APR requirement from serving on the Board. I think this sends the wrong message about leadership, the APR and our promotion of the profession and the professional. Here’s what I have sent to governance as an amendment to their change:
Section 2. Eligibility.
(a) To be eligible as a director, the individual must be accredited, be a
member of the Society in good standing, and have at least one of the
following qualifications: (1) held a leadership role within
the Society, including, but not limited to, served as a member of a
Chapter, District, or Section board of directors, chaired a national or
local committee or task force, or served as an Assembly delegate;
(2) served as a public relations or communications professional for
20 or more years, with increasing levels of responsibility.
For as long as I have been a member of PRSA (10 years), the organization has referred to its accreditation – the APR – as a “mark of distinction for public relations professionals who demonstrate their commitment to the profession and to its ethical practice, and who are selected based on broad knowledge, strategic perspective, and sound professional judgment.” Those are the Society’s words. Webster’s defines distinction as “excellence” or “eminence.” It defines eminence with the words “superiority” and “high ranking.”
If the accreditation is truly a distinction that indicates a level of superior practice, strategic perspective, commitment to the profession and its code of ethics, doesn’t it follow then, that this distinction would be the very least of what we would expect of our leadership?
It has been said that removing the APR requirement is needed because it currently poses a barrier to leadership for well-qualified individuals who have not earned their APR. If that were true, how do you explain the record number of accredited candidates that submitted applications this year for leadership positions? As I recall, no one ran uncontested.
I do not doubt the APR requirement works as a sieve for the leadership. That is part of what it should do. There are undoubtedly hundreds of well qualified PR professionals who have not earned their APR who would make good leaders. But, they owe it to themselves and to the profession to earn their APR whether they ever decide to serve in a leadership position or not. The APR is still the best way to advance the professional and, in large numbers, the profession.
The members currently view the APR as an important part of what membership in the Society offers. In the 2009 Membership Satisfaction Survey, 63% of those surveyed said APR programs were most important (8-10 out of 10) when asked to rate the importance of different services the chapter provides. When asked to rank how well their chapter performs in delivering its services, 65% rated APR Programs the highest (8-10 out of 10) in services a chapter provides. This says that the APR program is thought of as one of the most important services a chapter can provide, and that we are doing well at providing it. The membership advocates for a strong APR program, because it believes in the importance of the APR, partly due to its emphasis at leadership levels.
Removing the APR as a requirement for leadership will, at the very least, send a message to all Society members that we are not serious about professional development and standards. To remove its requirement from leadership cheats the profession and the professionals who have earned it.
If the APR is a barrier to leadership – let’s work harder at helping our members achieve it, rather than giving them another reason to avoid it. It’s in all of our best interest.
I am surprised there hasn’t been more online chatter about this one at the membernet site. I would think there’d be great numbers to argue for and against the change. I am curious how you feel. Will you support it?