Getting the APR

With the rise of social media, it becomes harder to separate the real from the fake; the self-declared “publicists” from the public relations professionals who have knowledge, experience and credentials. We all know getting another degree, whether your master’s or MBA, sets you apart from the pack. And then there is… the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential. In the public relations industry, we don’t speak of the APR enough. We spoke with Ameerah C. Palacios, APR professional and Owner of Ameerah PR and Marketing Services to expand the minds of our readers in regards to the APR.

Why do you value the APR?

I have spent majority of my career as a journalist and I did my undergrad in Mass Communication at Western Kentucky University. I have watched the fragmentation of the PR industry leave an increasing demand for PR services in the hands of what I consider amateurs. Unfortunately, many people confuse “traffic” with “influence.” I value the APR because the process takes you to the heart of what PR is really about – influencing behavior and cultural outcomes, telling a story and creating key messages to the appropriate publics. I also love how APRs have to maintain their accreditation by writing books, speaking at conferences, mentoring junior PR pros, etc. The APR really lined up with what I already do as a PR professional, but the designation does set you apart. In my opinion, being an APR is about taking the profession forward and continually evolving as the trends change.

After becoming APR credentialed, have you notice an increase in your clients?

The whole process took me about a year and I passed my exam in November 2013, so it is too soon to tell what the income benefit will be. I do notice I get more attention. Also, the traffic to my site has spiked and has maintained its traffic levels. The sales process tells us that with more interest the likelihood of generating more sales is highly probable – so with more traffic to my site, I’m sure more client leads will come.

Do you feel people are more trustworthy of your services because of your MBA and APR credentials?

Yes, of course. Having these credentials gets your foot through certain doors but nothing replaces doing great work and delivering customer service. If you had to pick between someone who has an MBA and APR credentials versus someone who didn’t have it, which one would you choose? You go with the expert, not the amateur.

With a Master’s in PR do you feel it is necessary to pursue the APR? 

To be honest, if you did your undergrad in communication and got a Master’s in PR, I find that to be redundant. However, nothing replaces having the APR credential – not even a Master’s in PR. In fact, APRs in senior positions like and look for other APRs. If you have the portfolio and the study chops you can get an APR within a year – in order to sit in front of the readiness review panel you have to have at least five years of experience in PR.

Did PRSA provide the online course you took to study for the exam?

Yes, there is an online APR study course. It costs about $200 (for PRSA members) but it is worth it. You study with a cohort and are able to ask live questions during weekly webinars as you study for the computer-based exam. The insights from APRs who participate and people who are studying for the test with you are immeasurably helpful. I didn’t read all the books on the recommended list, but I did read Cutlip’s Effective Public Relations. For more about the study course, please visit http://www.online2learn.net/APR.

AmeerahAmeerah Palacios is a millennial public relations leader helping schools, businesses and celebrities elevate their brand. With expertise in social media, marketing research and brand journalism, she runs integrated marketing communication campaigns for schools, nonprofits, small businesses and corporations. 

She earned a Master’s in Business Administration from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY and a Bachelors in Arts degree in Mass Communication from the renowned School of Journalism and Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University as an Honors Program alumnae. 

Follow her on Twitter and catch her blogging at www.AmeerahPR.com

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