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