APR: Knitting Public Relations’ Diverse Threads

By Rosanna Fiske, APR
CEO and Chair-Elect
Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) 

Rosanna Fiske is CEO and Chair-Elect of PRSA. She is scheduled to speak at the Hispanic PR & Social Marketing Conference, May 10-12 in Dallas, TX.

 

I am often asked what the three letters after my name mean – A, P, and R. As an acronym, they mean “Accredited in Public Relations,” the unique accreditation for public relations professionals offered by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and other organizations that participate in the Universal Accreditation Board.  As a concept, and this took me a while to understand, they represent my rich diversity of knowledge, skill and experience that define and propel the PR profession.

When I started my career as a young journalist who segued into marketing, the pieces began to come together. The research and writing I did as a reporter served me well as I explored the creative and business sides of marketing. But these experiences also gave me an awareness of where these professions converge. I knew I had hit upon something — the career path where I could pull it all together — in public relations.

Joining PRSA brought about my second professional epiphany. Shortly after joining, I looked at getting my APR. I realized then just how diverse the knowledge and skills of a public relations professional must be and how my unusual mix of experience put me at a professional advantage. It set me on a course that led me into public relations practice, graduate studies and teaching, the PRSA Board of Directors and now chair and CEO-elect. 

Becoming an APR and an active PRSA leader also affirmed how my diverse background, as well as experience, enhanced the work of the profession.  I realized how an awareness of cross-cultural experiences and interactions can be essential to communicating effectively with the diverse target audiences and publics we need to reach. As the Society’s first Hispanic woman chair and CEO-elect, I also find it personally and professionally gratifying — yet, I realize that it’s only the beginning.

In short, I’ve found throughout my career just how much diversity defines and drives public relations. I can’t think of another profession that draws from such a wide scope of disciplines, talents, life experiences, cultural awareness, and so on. And, the more I learned about the exciting breadth of the public relations’ tent, the more certain I’ve become that I have a unique contribution to make — and the more I knew I was in the right business.

For me, getting my APR was the glue that brought it all together and set me on my successful course from Havana, Cuba to chair and CEO-elect of PRSA. Beyond “accredited in public relations,” perhaps we should also think of A-P-R as the “awareness, professionalism and respect” that make our profession all that it can be for each and every one of us.

  • Lourdes Pérez-Ramírez, MA, MBA

    Hi Rossana,
    Glad to see you will be at this conference. I will not miss it for the world.
    I have been in Public and Media Relations for 20+ years;10 in journalism. I too have a background in Marketing and my PR experience told me that it was that marketing know-how what made me successful, what gave me a heads up to understand my clients’ business needs.
    What I don’t really see is how an APR will really help me. It’s a nice thing to have the letters next to my name (I am not APR and have decided that, at least now, will not pursue it.)
    You see, I talked to many colleges/universities who attended PRSA conference in San Diego. What are they teaching at PR departements, I asked? “How to write a press release, how to organize events,” and light stuff like that. There’s no way Rossana, that these kids can come out with a well-rounded education from such PR programs to serve their employers and future clients, even if they become APR-certified. It takes an accountant a long time to become certified; experience to become SHRIM-certified. Yes, kids have more time to become APR certified. But what about content, background, business knowledge? And neither do I see how such a voluntary certification can really help an experienced PR person get a job. Now, an MBA? Now we are talking. In these days when the line between business and nonprofits is becoming so thin, even nonprofits need business accumen for their increasing funding needs. This is just an example.
    You know, in Puerto Rico we decided to legislate to license PR practice. That’s another story. I abide by that rule. In Puerto Rico now you have to be licensed to work in PR. That gives credibility to the profession, Rossana. How many APRs there are in Puerto Rico? Just a handlful. Now, with our new law, PRSA might make money from Puerto Rican Public Relations practitioners because now there are legal teeths to enforce it. But voluntary professional certifications such as an APR might add credibility, I admit, if you are already an experienced practitioner. Might. Look around you. You know very well that a business degree, rounded with literature, history, political , journalism and human resources knowledge will indeed catapult a PR professional and will help her talk face-to-face to and advice CEOs and managers about what PR can do for them. A certification is more a “business issue” for PRSA than a professional one. Of course, that’s my opinion after exactly 26 years in the filed.
    When I was associate editor of Caribbean Business, Rossana, many releases that were sent our way were sent to the 13th file. No content.
    I am proud that PRSA has finally elected a Latina business woman like you to represent this wonderful profession. I feel well represented by you. I wish you the best.
    Saludos,
    Lourdes