NEW YORK: The divisive issue of accreditation was thrust to the forefront once again last week, as over half the candidates failed the latest Accredited in Public Relations (APR) exam.
NEW YORK: The divisive issue of accreditation was thrust to the
forefront once again last week, as over half the candidates failed the
latest Accredited in Public Relations (APR) exam.
The Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), which now administers the
biannual test, said that 89 out of 193 (46%) practitioners passed, tying
the record for lowest pass rate set in 1982.
Last year, after 51% passed, the UAB took steps to make preparation
easier: it returned to basing the test on one textbook and launched an
online test prep course to help local accreditation chairs (PRWeek,
March 1, 1999).
Phil Wescott, chair of the UAB, was unavailable for comment but said in
a release that ’we’re not focused on any single pass rate.’ APR
advocates such as Tom Bartikoski agree: ’There’s an overemphasis on the
pass rate. The variation is in the candidate pool, not the exam.’
People on both sides of the APR debate said that a low pass rate isn’t
necessarily bad, but also said that PR pros taking the test today (some
of whom are not in the PRSA) are not as qualified as previous
GCI Group VP Joseph Riser suggested upping the five-year minimum
experience requirement. ’It may be a while until (other PR
organizations) are up to speed,’ said Tom Duke, who has served as
accreditation chair at two PRSA chapters.
But for many pros, the issue is not how many people pass, but that the
certification doesn’t deliver much more than personal satisfaction. ’APR
is totally meaningless outside the PR fraternity,’ said Lew Phelps, APR
and partner at Sitrick & Company. ’Most of the really good people in the
business don’t have the credential because they don’t care about
Countered Bartikoski, ’People who say it isn’t relevant are
speculating.’ He added that a PRSA job analysis survey, due out later
this year, should help make test content better reflect the daily grind
One PR pro who passed the fall exam had mixed feelings on the
’Some items, like the history of PR, seem entirely irrelevant, but I use
what I learned about preparing the case study on a daily basis in my
work with clients,’ said Nicole Sobell, a senior associate at PAN
Andrew Edson, APR and veteran of the New York PR scene, put it bluntly:
’dollars 1.50 and an APR will get you on the subway.’ And Jo Procter,
news director at Williams College, added, ’PRSA is spinning itself to
believe that an exam will make PR smell pretty.’