Would You Like Fries With That Press Release?


An APR jumpstart transforms service-providers into C-suite advisers


A total geek by nature, I have always been intrigued with the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), or the “good housekeeping seal of approval” as Dave Thompson, APR, likes to call it. I sat down with Dave and his former boss Tom Fuller, APR, Communications Manager of Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to learn all about the APR. Not only did we talk about the process of getting an APR, which entails more than just filling out the bubbles on a sheet of test paper, but we explored how the addition of an APR has changed both of their lives inside and outside of work.

Dave, who listeners might remember from a previous episode where he outlined the job functions of a public information officer (PIO), recently left his post as ODOT’s public affairs program manager to serve as an independent contractor providing media training and lecturing. Yet he drew on past ODOT examples, such as the communication management of storms, to provide a clear before-and-after picture of what the APR learning meant to his job. While Tom, who spent 20 years in TV before coming over to the dark side, offers concrete examples of how the APR helped his team plan, execute and measure an effective campaign to address the new flight travel identification regulations.

Listen to the episode for insight into the working lives of both leaders and glean some insider knowledge on what it’s like to actually get an APR. To remain the ever helpful PR person, below is a quick guide to the APR facts.


What is the APR?

Both Tom and Dave said that PR people love to jump right into tactics. But this can be futile without really knowing your audiences nor setting out measurable objectives at the front end of a campaign to help you understand if what you’re doing is actually working. The detailed process of getting an APR through the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) brings professionals up to this level of strategic thinking, helping them gain confidence for future leadership.


The APR Process

The first readiness class (Feb. 15) should cover all of this but it’s my understanding that after signing up, candidates need to study the coursebook, “Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations” (11th Edition), to prepare for the presentation candidates give in front of a small panel of judges to show their knowledge of the material.

During the presentation, candidates draw on a past campaign to present a “would’a, should’a, could’a”, as Dave likes to call it, before and if-only-in-a-perfect-world after scenario to the campaign that takes into account this new knowledge and what could have been done differently if the stars had aligned perfectly (budget, approvals, etc.).

After demonstrating their readiness, candidates dig deeper into the book to pass the proctored computer test. Studying with new friends from the readiness class or with a mentor, candidates walk away with not just the skills needed to pass a test but a richer understanding of our field, ultimately altering how the job is approached. 


Fees & Stipulations 

The cost for the APR is $385, excluding the textbook cost which could run you $40+ to rent through Amazon to $145 new. HOWEVER, there may be some extensive rebates offered through PRSA upon completion of the computer examination. 

Any PRSA member can apply for accreditation but it’s recommended that candidates hold previous PR experience (a couple of years according to Dave and Tom but the PRSA Oregon website suggests five years) in order to properly address the presentation portion of the process. 


Next Steps

Still unsure? At least attend the first accreditation class on Saturday, February 15, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at The Gathering Place (12950 SW Pacific Highway, Suite 125) in Tigard. The classes will be held each Saturday through roughly April 11. The first few classes will be held at the Gathering Place but the location could change thereafter. Due to the time commitment required, candidates are not expected to attend every class but get so much out of it when they do. 

This year’s core instructors will be: Patti Atkins, APR, Dave Thompson, APR, Chuck Williams, APR, Mara Woloshin, APR, Fellow PRSA, Jean Kempe-Ware, APR, and Stacy Moe-Keen, APR — joined by guest experts Kathy Hubbelll, APR, Fellow PRSA and Doug Levin, APR and more.


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About the guest: Tom Fuller

Tom is the Communications Manager at the Oregon Department of Transportaion (ODOT) and has nearly four decades of experience in media, communications and public relations management both in public and private as well as non-profit organizations. Tom is an award winning journalist, writer, producer, voice talent, and nationally known speaker.

Connect and follow Tom on social media:

About the guest: Dave Thompson

Dave Thompson is an accredited public relations professional with nearly 40 years’ experience as team leader/coach, spokesperson, public information officer, corporate communications director and awarding-winning broadcast reporter/anchor.

Connect and follow Dave on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

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Amy Rosenberg
Founder and President at Veracity
Writer. Podcaster. Press Friend. Hand Holder.