Reflections on the Value of the APR

By Seth Wheeler, APR

Having sufficiently recovered from earning my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) in November of 2015, I’ve begun to notice the many ways in which the experience has influenced my work life and the way I think about my job.

Seth Wheeler, APR

Seth Wheeler, APR

As anyone who’s gone through the process will attest, the APR exam covers a lot of ground. What does the Agenda Setting theory tell us about the impact of media messages? What’s the difference between a tactic and a strategy? What the heck is Irving Fang’s Easy Listening Formula? I haven’t studied for anything like this since college, and frankly, a lot of the minutia has already settled down deep in the memory vault. What remains fresh and relevant every day, though, are the broader lessons the APR teaches about the values of our profession and how we can maximize them for ourselves and the organizations we represent.

I thought when I started the APR process that I’d be learning new and creative ways to “manage” information and “shape” the public’s perception of my company. How refreshing it was to learn straight away that the ultimate goal of public relations was to serve the public good by simply telling the truth. I’m fortunate to work for a member-owned cooperative. I work with good people who want the best for this organization and the members it serves. When the company’s policies or procedures are perceived to be in conflict with a member or group of members, my first instinct is not to batten down the hatches and go on the defensive. My first instinct is transparency. We have good people with good intentions. Let’s explain how we arrived at this point and get to work on a solution.

It’s this simple clarity of purpose that I return to time and again. I notice these days that there are fewer situations at work where I’m uncertain about how to proceed. There are fewer judgement calls and hunches. Instead, decisions are made based on established processes, the goals they support and the professional ethics established by the APR. In short, the APR provides much-needed clarity when the water gets murky.

Seth Wheeler is a Yankee Chapter Board Member and the Communications Administrator at New Hampshire Electric Cooperative in Plymouth, NH.