Add me to their list of supporters.
The petition asks PRSA’s National Assembly to remove a longstanding obstacle that blocks 80% of the society’s membership from holding national office: a requirement that officeholders first earn the “APR” designation. The restriction was put in place in middle 1970s.
Among those leading the task force are: Richard Edelman, CEO of the world’s largest independent PR firm; Bill Doescher, former president of the PRSA Foundation; Art Stevens, a former national officer and past president PRSA-NY; and Deborah Radman, last year’s president of PRSA-NY and former chairman of the Counselors Academy.
Here is the committee’s statement:
We are calling on PRSA to abandon the decades old requirement that its national officers and board members be accredited.
Less than 20% of PRSA members are accredited meaning that 80% of the 21,000 members cannot become PRSA leaders unless they choose to become APR.
We do not believe that democracy is being served in PRSA so long as a small minority of its members can hold elective office. We believe that many worthy members of PRSA who meet national leadership criteria in many other ways are being deprived of the opportunity to serve the organization.
We believe that accreditation is a hallmark for professional improvement but not for governance. If PRSA is to become the relevant professional organization it can be then this accreditation requirement must end here and now.
If you follow PRSA politics, you know that Stevens published a strongly worded editorial on this topic last fall, soon after the National Assembly voted down a move to dump the APR rule.
It’s not a debate about the APR. PRSA accreditation has value to many. Preparation for the exam, when handled by competent mentors, is a crash course in PR theory, process, history and ethics. It’s background every PR pro should have.
What you learn during APR prep makes you a better professional, even if it doesn’t do much for your job prospects. Most employers don’t know what the APR is, nor do they care. That hasn’t changed in 50 years and no amount of “PR for PR” is likely to change it now.
Point is, the APR should not be an obstacle that blocks competent professionals from leadership positions. The APR just isn’t that big a deal, and it does nothing to enhance one’s leadership abilities. I believe excluding non-APRs from leadership may actually hurt PRSA and its potential to advance the profession.
For more on this story, see Jack O’Dwyer’s blog post.
Disclosure: I earned the APR in 1986 and was elected to PRSA’s College of Fellows 10 years later. After 27 years, I decided to take a year off from PRSA membership in 2010. If I miss it, I’ll be back.
Sadly, every time I write about PRSA politics on this blog, my readership numbers head for the Mendosa line. But someone has to talk about this issue.