Thursday, August 13, 2009

Guest Blogger: APRs take PR to Heroic Proportions

Our guest "Phlogger" this week is Michael Tullier, APR, director of external relations for the Auburn University College of Education.

It doesn’t take a superhero to fend off reporters and save the CEO in distress, but in today’s fast-paced world of public relations, there is a group of professionals with the demonstrated “powers” needed to be successful. Some mild-mannered, some daring – but all equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities demanded of the public relations profession – these professionals certainly don’t keep their Accredited in Public Relations identity a secret.

Professionals don’t earn their APR through exposure to the yellow sun or the bite of a radioactive spider. Each builds on book smarts and practical experience and approaches the process with different expectations. But since “deliverables” in our profession are critical, pursuing Accreditation results in power-packed benefits for professionals, employers and the profession as a whole.

Combining introspection and education. Accredited professionals have reported through surveys that the APR process is reflective, introspective and knowledge-expanding. And while we celebrate those employers who require the APR as a requisite for employment or financially reward those who achieve this milestone, a vast majority of APRs find contentment in the personal rewards Accreditation offers. Through a process that 96 percent of APRs surveyed find valuable, 96 percent would recommend to a colleague, and 93 percent feel assessed the skills needed to succeed in the profession, APRs acknowledge the credential for building confidence and credibility while expanding their knowledge content.

Gaining marketplace credibility. Accreditation is not a new concept to corporate America. Manufacturers, educational institutions, medical facilities and the like seek the integrity that comes with their industry’s or discipline’s accrediting endorsement. Should it not make sense that companies would seek the same in their hiring practices? Consider that the human resource industry itself has, not one, but two distinct accrediting levels for human resource professionals. Accredited public relations professionals demonstrate their commitment to mastering – and continuing to develop – the knowledge, skills and abilities, or KSAs, desired by today’s employers. The APR credential also helps employers clearly and effectively evaluate one’s qualifications when compared to applicants from other professions who see public relations as a chance to “try something new” or to take their career “in a new direction.”

Defining the profession. The Accreditation process benefits our profession by bringing structure and definition to it. As part of the Universal Accreditation Board’s 2003 effort to redesign the APR process, APR leaders sought a better understanding of what our profession entails and what it takes to be successful in today’s PR environment. And guess what? It didn’t reveal necessary characteristics like “being a people person.” It created clear delineations between the tactical and strategic practice levels, emphasized the professional’s counselor role, and clarified that public relations doesn’t “just happen” – it is a deliberate, ethically based executive function with measurable results.

Accreditation in Public Relations has prepared – and continues to prepare – professionals to lead by example in our industry and in our associations. Within the nine participating organizations of the Universal Accreditation Board, you’ll find within these associations’ top volunteer and paid leadership levels Accredited professionals equipped to advance the opportunities for their fellow professionals and our profession. As a result, those who have demonstrated an intricate understanding of our profession and their own professional practice are imminently qualified to see our industry into the coming decades.

I’m not suggesting that “APR” comes emblazoned on its own red-and-blue spandex outfit, part of a gadget-ridden utility belt or with powers sufficient to gain you a title role on NBC’s Heroes. What it does, however, is empower professionals in a manner each finds befitting their personal, professional and volunteer expectations. For professionals eager to distinguish themselves in today’s marketplace, Accreditation in Public Relations offers a means of garnering positive attention and that “second glance” in a way that wearing a cape to work never will.

Power up today at

Michael Tullier, APR, is director of external relations for the Auburn University College of Education in Auburn, Ala. An award-winning public relations professional with more than 15 years of experience as an organization’s chief public relations counsel and spokesperson, Michael achieved accreditation in 2003. Tullier served as chair of the Universal Accreditation Board in 2008 and is its current immediate past chair. During his UAB tenure, which began in 2005, he has represented both the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF).