CPRS Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is a respected measure of professional experience in the field of public relations. This program recognizes the dedication, energy, perseverance and competence of successful public relations professionals. To pursue the accreditation process you must satisfy the following eligibility requirements:
You are a member in good standing of the Canadian Public Relations Society.
You have been employed full-time in a public relations position for at least five years; and
You spend at least half of your professional time involved in specific public relations activities.
Candidates must complete an Accreditation application (due December 1st) which is available through the National Office. The examinations, offered in French and English, consist of three parts: a review of a work sample (due April 1st), a written examination and an oral examination (in October).
The exams are designed to test the breadth and depth of a candidate's public relations experience and ability. The goals of CPRS National Council on Accreditation are to assure professional competence; establish standards for professional practice; increase recognition for the profession within business organizations and the community, and influence the future direction of the profession.
Starting in 1955, CPRS and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) began an annual tradition of joint board meetings to exchange information. In 1974, both organizations signed a proclamation to recognize each other’s level of membership (reciprocity agreement) to allow mobility between the two countries.
By the mid-1960s the growth of public relations in Canada as a profession led CPRS to introduce a voluntary accreditation program in 1969. Successful applicants are designated APR (Accredited, Public Relations), which indicates that a practitioner has worked full-time in public relations for at least five years, has completed a three-part examination, and has agreed to abide by the Society's Code of Professional Standards.
As of March 31st, 2022, there were 422 members with an APR representing 30 percent of the membership. In 1998 CPRS established the College of Fellows. Currently there are 105 Fellows. The College began a mentoring scheme in 2022.
APR Spotlight - Michelle James, Past CPRS Regina President
How did you hear about the APR program? I heard about the APR program as a CPRS Member. It wasn't until I had my membership for a couple of years that I researched to find out what the APR was and what achieving it meant. I initially had joined CPRS as a student representative for the CPRS Regina Board.
How long did you consider applying for the APR program before you actually did? I had before but I didn't feel I was ready, especially in my practice because it took me about 5 years of practice to really help narrow down what I wanted to do in my practice. That for me, didn't come until I had completed my Masters degree. So I went about it a different way others do. To clarify you don't need a masters to do the APR, its just the journey I took. I was still learning about the CPRS community and meeting more CPRS members and they were also a big part of why I actually applied.
What are some misconceptions people have about the APR program? I had this misconception that I had to have this big body of work to even apply for the APR program and after attending the national webinar, I found out, I didn't need that. In honesty, the webinar really changed my misconceptions. I think one of the other misconceptions is that you have to be a CPRS member for a long time. You don't, you have to have 5 years of practice though. I think the other misconception is because I don't know enough APRs I can't apply for my own. When applying - ask either your local accreditation chair or the national one and let them know. There's an easy solution to that and that's one of the great things about the CPRS community as a whole. I think the last biggest misconception is that the process is the scary, intimidating thing where you will weeded out- guess what? Through every step of the process you are supported nationally with the cohort model we have now and locally. If you're local chapter isn't big enough for an accreditation chair - reach out to another chapter who does have one. Not only do you have support but you are provided with every tool to succeed and you have company too.
Why did you want to achieve your APR? I wanted to achieve it for a couple of reasons - one, I was ready in my practice for it - it was that next step. I done my masters and I had gotten that foundation solidified, but now it was time to do so in my career path. Secondly, I wanted to be a stronger practitioner. We aren't a regulated profession (whole other conversation) however there is a method to the madness and not everyone can do what we do. I was annoyed with others outside of the profession telling me what they think they knew about what I did and how I should go about doing and I knew my profession was strongly supported by CPRS and that, yes, guess what, we were the experts in our practice.
What would you recommend for those who are considering applying? Ask questions about the whole process, it's not as scary as you think. It requires commitment for a year. It's not always fun but you won't be alone. Don't over think it, just send in the application and trust the process. You get so much out of the process than just letters, you gain a stronger sense of community but also a stronger sense of who you are as a practitioner.
What do you hope to accomplish as an APR? Ohh umm world peace? Cure for cancer? Initially I had wanted to join a rock band and tour the world... lol Well those are out of my control with my APR but I hope to inspire others who might be interested. Continue to support other practitioners, but keep true to my practice as an APR. I said earlier, there's a method to the madness and not everyone can do what we do. We're the experts in it and I think the pandemic has shown that. More importantly, I hope to continue to grow as a practitioner in public relations and communications. I'm not done learning by any means but I'd like to continue to use my APR knowledge for good, and see what a positive difference I can continue to make.