I recently met with a young Denver public relations professional who is considering going through the process to become Accredited in Public Relations, or APR. Most people hear APR and think of credit cards. But to PR pros, especially those of us who are active in PRSA, the credential represents something significant. It's a big step.

As with most things worth attaining, getting your APR has pros and cons. The APR brand is often misunderstood, and not just by people outside our profession. It means committing the time to study and prepare for a difficult oral and written exam. And many PR people don't really get why it is important or how it can benefit them.  

I am not saying an APR is essential to be a good PR pro. There are plenty of talented PR people who decided they don't need it. Some would rather pursue a graduate degree or learn from a respected mentor.  But like any other professional credential, APR represents to people inside and outside the profession that you possess a certain body of knowledge. It says that you have achieved a level of competence and success that entitles you to call yourself a professional.

If you are wondering if APR is right for you, consider these five reasons to get your APR:

It will distinguish you from your competitors.  
Maybe it won't instantly translate into a better salary or bigger retainer, but there are employers and clients that look for the APR credential to help them decide which candidate or consultant to hire. It gives you an edge.

You won’t have to feel like you are faking it.
Let's face it, half the people in this profession, including me, got our training through trial and error. Wouldn't it be nice to not have to panic when your boss asks for a strategic PR plan?  Instead of frantically emailing friends and looking online for a template, wouldn't it be nice to feel like you've mastered the fundamentals of your profession?   

It will help you be more confident.
You will be part of a network of colleagues that takes their job seriously. You will know that you have the experience and knowledge to handle anything thrown your way.

It will make you a better professional.
If you have any pride at all in what you do for a living, you want to be good at it. It's not the army, but if you want to be the best PR pro you can be, this credential is for you.

It will give you a sense of accomplishment.
You'll be proud that you took the initiative and that you succeeded.  Maybe that's the best reward of all.

Whether you agree or disagree, please leave a comment and let me know. If you have other reasons to get an APR besides the ones I listed here, I'd love to hear them.  

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