Author Archive

APR: Accepted Credential or Detriment to PRSA?

July 21, 2010

Bob Frause, APR, Fellow PRSA

Member, PRSA National Board of Directors

APR is a bona fide professional credential, one that all PRSA members should strive for and be proud of achieving.  As currently developed, however, it only recognizes those who achieved basic public relations proficiency skills. It does nothing to recognize advanced PR skills and technical competence.  That’s where certification might play a role, but we’re not there yet.  And, even with the current APR maintenance and skills enhancement requirements, the credential fails to recognize the breath and depth of the entire communication landscape in which a majority of us work every day.

That said, I also believe that APR qualification has little to do with governance, leadership or sitting as a national board member of a multi-million dollar professional association, namely PRSA.

No portion of the APR exam prepares one for leadership; be it at the chapter level or anywhere along the spectrum to the national board and officer’s suite.  Some say that national board members and officers should fly the APR flag as a sign of leadership.  However, far more important than professional credentials, are real world board experience and an understanding of non-profit financial and business management.  Those with basic leadership principles, consensus building skills and a well-grounded representative point of view are the kind of PRSA leaders I am looking for.

National board members and officers should be dedicated to running an organization responsibly on behalf of all members.  That does not necessarily equate with showing how proficient they are in practicing the profession.  Many APR’s don’t fit this criteria; many non-APR’s do.  I believe mandating APR for national board service does not allow for the holistic representation of the diverse needs and values of the more than 18,000 PRSA members and leaders who do not have that status.  Why limit our Society’s leadership potential?

I am in favor of last year’s bylaws amendment regarding the APR requirement for national board and officer service.  It reads:

(a)     To be eligible as a director, the individual must be a member of the Society in good standing and have at least one of the following qualifications: (1) an APR; (2) 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; (3) served as a public relations or communications professional for 20 or more years, with increasing levels of responsibility.

Unfortunately this year’s recommended bylaws amendment has removed reference to APR in qualification #1.  I believe having an APR can be one of the requisites to national board service, but it shouldn’t be mandatory or the only track.

We have many great leaders among our 22,000-member ranks. Let’s not limit the leadership pool to the 4,000 or so APRs in the club.  That, I believe, is shortsighted and does not serve the future of the Society or its members responsibly.

I urge you to ask proponents of this bylaws amendment — Art Stevens, APR, Fellow PRSA,; Richard Edelman; William Doescher, APR, Fellow PRSA,; Deborah Radman, APR Fellow PRSA,; Sandra Fathi,; David Rickey, APR,; and Rene Henry, APR, Fellow PRSA, to add APR back into the mix so it reads like the bylaws amendment proposed last year.  And then, support their effort.  Thanks.  BOB

The views expressed in this blog are the personal views of Bob Frause, APR, Fellow PRSA and in no way represent the views of the PRSA Board of Directors or any member or officer of the National PRSA Board of Directors. Nor do they represent the views of the organizations and committees that Bob participates in including the PRSA College of Fellows, the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards or the PRSA Counselor’s Academy.


2010 Professional Development Seminar

June 30, 2010

Peter Shankman’s four rules – not just for social media

By Kathryn Reith, APR

Despite the draw – or distraction? – of the USA/Algeria World Cup soccer match, the recent PRSA professional development seminar on social media dispersed a rapid flow of ideas, experiences and even the latest in tech toys. If you could not be there, here are my personal takeaways from the four rules proffered by keynote speaker Peter Shankman. While aimed at social media, they apply to any public relations program.

Rule 1: Transparency. Honesty and transparency shuts down your critics and builds trust with your customers. With social media and cell phone cameras, whatever you want to hide will be uncovered. If you lose trust, you lose customers.

Rule 2: Relevance. With so many sources of information and entertainment, audiences are fragmented. You must be relevant to your audience or they will disappear, going to one of the many other sources they can choose. Your audience in social media is a gift: it is up to you to say interesting or relevant things to keep them.

Rule 3: Brevity. Shankman cited research showing the average attention span is now 2.7 seconds – or the equivalent of a text message. (Side note: it’s also the length of a tweet. Shankman cautioned us to embrace the concept of mobile messaging, not committing to a specific brand or forum.) Good writing is brevity. Learn to write!

Rule 4: Top of mind presence. If they have heard from you recently, you are more likely to be top of mind. People act on recommendations or even simple awareness of a product/person/business from networks of friends, whether it is a personal purchase or a professional opportunity. Shankman believes we are moving to one personal/professional network. If anyone has made a business out of a personal/professional network, it’s Peter Shankman. The new tech toy comes in here: the poken – carry one with you to sync your business card information and your Facebook/Twitter/Linked In accounts with anyone you meet who also has a poken.

Welcome to PRSA Puget Sound!

May 19, 2010

Welcome to the new PRSA Puget Sound Web site! Take a look around for news about valuable programs, professional development seminars and networking opportunities with other public relations professionals throughout the region. Our local chapter is one of the largest, most active and diverse in the country. We’re also strongly represented with accredited members who’ve earned their APR as a distinction of their knowledge and expertise in the field.

People often ask me, what’s your job about? What is it that PR people do exactly? If you take the time to get to know our membership you’ll find we have our hands and heads in lots of places. We’re helping launch new technologies – from the latest PDA to groundbreaking cancer treatments to underwater tidal energy turbines. We’re working alongside elected officials to share public policy proposals. We’re sharing information to improve transportation systems, education, public safety, economic development, human services and the environment. We’re building airplanes, designing gaming software, expanding e-commerce. We’re celebrating our region’s vibrant arts scene, whether it’s the ballet’s new production, a Fremont gallery walk, local theater or the next big Seattle band to make its mark. As communicators, we’re in the thick of it.

We help set the agenda. We help break the news – both the good and the bad – in an attempt to educate, enlighten and provide context. We’re in the business of sharing stories to bring greater understanding about our often complicated and frenetic world.

If you’re stopping by our site, take the next step and stop by one of our upcoming programs. If you’re already a member, I encourage you to engage as much as you can in the chapter – by attending our programs and events, serving in one of our committees, mentoring a student, earning your APR or simply by networking with other PR practitioners.

We hope to see you soon!

Neil Neroutsos, APR
Chapter President
PRSA Puget Sound