Eligibility Amendment to Remove APR

October 14, 2009

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?


Chesapeake Conference

September 21, 2009

Mark your calendars for the Maryland Chapter’s Annual Chesepeake Conference, October 6, 2009. Download a Conference brochure and registration form from the PRSA MD Chapter web site.

September Call Summary

September 18, 2009

Thank you to Candice (National), Thomas (Roanoke), Linda (Central PA) and Jeff (NCC) who logged on to our monthly call yesterday. For those who missed, here’s the recap – Dave Rickey provided a broad overview of the By-Laws changes that are before the Assembly this year. Assembly discussion calls have begun and conversations are taking place on the E-group. If you have proposed revisions to any of the By-Laws changes, they are asking that you submit them to governance@prsa.org in advance of the Assembly (Oct 8 is the deadline), so that we’re not rewriting on the fly. Big ticket items on the changes are: (1) a more inclusive membership, recognizing that there are many new careers out there (bloggers, etc.) that are within the pr realm. This one concerns me – the dilution of an already very much misunderstood role – especially for groups, such as bloggers, who are not committed to an ethics policy as we are. (2) removing the requirement of Board representation from each District. National says it limits the pool, but I fear it runs the risk of skewing Board representation, and I do believe each geographical area needs its own “personal peep” looking out for them. I have supported Mark McClellan’s comments on this. (3) the removal of the APR requirement for a Board member. This one gets the ultimate “are you kidding me” response. National says the APR requirement takes a lot of well-qualified people out of play. I say, if they are committed to advancing the profession and they are that good – then get them accredited, but don’t remove the requirement. Removing APR as a requirement for a leadership position tells the membership that the leadership doesn’t value the APR and there is no need to acheive it.

Other items discussed included a nice briefing on the 2010 conference in DC from NCC pres-elect Jeff Ghannam. Believe it or not there is a 35-member committee planning it. They are working with national pres elect Gary McCormick on a theme and have plans for a little District Happy Hour at conference this year (Nov 9). So look for info about that. Our District is also scheduled to meet morning of Nov 8th (Sunday). Please let me know if you are coming so I can make sure you know where we’re meeting, etc. Flights from this area are not bad. My roundtrip ticket is only $240. We need to discuss next-year’s District leadership, as well as our plans to do a one-day QuickStart program for new Board leaders.

In our roundtable discussion, both Roanoke and Central PA are feeling effects of the down economy. Roanoke reported a slight drop in membership, not quite 10%, but had a very successful networking event, where they gained a few more new members through a membership giveaway drawing. Central PA is worried about the future of its leadership – as it appears folks are too busy to step up to the slate. Any thoughts/ideas for shaking loose those hidden leaders in the chapter? I will ask around at my District Council conference call next week.

Stay glued and share your thoughts. Next person to comment (besides Harry and Jennifer who already got theirs) gets a Starbucks on me.

July Call

July 16, 2009

Thanks for a great call yesterday and a great discussion everyone. Particular thanks to Denis Walcott for the brief on the Conference. Sounds like a great lineup with Todd Buchholz, Ariana Huffington and newly added Bob Garfield from NPR’s On the Media. Lots of sessions dedicated to metrics, meet the experts, advance your career all packaged in gorgeous San Diego with a lower price (below $1,000). Register before 9/25 for $200 in savings. Plus, new this year, you can pay in installments – so affording it is even easier!

Proposed By Law Changes – good discussion and definitely a challenge! Seems like there was agreement in the need and expectation for our leaders to be accredited – but what to do in the meantime, when so few of them are? Is Board leadership and governance mixing the objective? A 2008 leadership poll rated professional accomplishment and APR for leaders up over the 70% mark on a scale of importance. The best results come from continuing the dialogue so please be sure to log-in and participate on Assembly discussions coming your way either via the leaderserve or conference call. I am currently working on a position piece for NCC that I will share with you when ready. Let’s help each other arrive at our conclusions by continuing to talk about it.

During our “swap” ideas conversation – Jeff (NCC) requested some desire to offer training to Board members and committee chairs. I will grab the District Quick Start template and share with you all as a straw man. Let’s try to plan something for mid-January – a one-day in a convenient location. In the meantime – could you let me know if you’d send your Board and whether you’d be interested in helping me plan?

Question about new chapter we templates available – thanks Candace for the info – looks like the “go live” is early 2010 and the plan is to first relaunch the prsa.org site.

Next call is August 19 and I stand by my offer of a Starbucks giftcard equal to one weekly frappachino for a month to the first one to post a comment to this entry. The last card will be going out to DE’s Jennifer Johnston for mentioning the last post before anyone.


Just Checking In

July 14, 2009

So, once again I’d like to test the RSS Feed feature of our Blog. First one to comment to this post or send me an email that says they saw this gets a venti Mocha Frappacinno on me once per week for a month. This offer good only for this post 🙂

Leadership Rally

June 2, 2009

Hey Gang!

So, are we morning people or afternoon people? I’d like to meet for coffee or drinks on Friday. I’ll send an email to that effect today. Either way, I am eager to meet many of you in person.

Also, please do not forget that the deadline to submit your application for one of the vacant leadership positions at National is upon us – June 15. The application does take some time. We already have Steve Grant and Dave Imre from our region serving in Board positions, but Assembly Delegate at Large and International Assembly Delegate would be good opportunities for the right Mid Atlantic pro. Keep me posted if you’ve got anyone in mind so I can help shepherd them through.

See you Friday!


May 22, 2009

Greetings and TGIF!

Note the a new look. I was finding the old site hard to navigate with too much clutter. What do you think? You like? Please bear with me as I learn the WordPress tool in between my day-job tasks. I have removed the Chapter pages as I thought they added clutter. In a few minutes I will add them instead as links under the blogroll, direct to your sites. Make sense?

In case you missed the call this month, we covered Leadership Rally, Nominations for National positions, By-Law changes and we talked a little shop.

If you are headed to Leadership Rally, please let me know. We’re tentatively trying to meet on Friday at either 7:30 am, 3:20 pm during a breakout, or around 5:30 for a quick drink at the bar. I’d just like to meet you all in person and have a chance to shake hands.

Nom Com – If you’ve got a shining star in your Chapter, now’s the time to recommend a position on our National Board. Everything you need to know is available at the PRSA site and I can help, too.

By-Laws – couple of fairly controversial ideas coming up as ByLaws changes. The two most contentious seem to be removing the APR requirement for Board positions, and opening up membership to a broader swath of people connected to the PR world. More info here. As your District Chair, I serve as a delegate representing the District at Assembly. I will want to vote your way, if that’s possible across all our Chapters. Keep me posted on your thoughts…