An ad hoc committee of the Public Relations Society of America is circulating a petition that would remove the requirement for PRSA’s leadership to hold the Society’s basic professional credential, Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). There’s a lively debate on the subject here. This was my contribution:
Like Steve Lubetkin, I “never cease to be amazed” that this issue continues to arise; it seems a no-brainer to me that we should want and demand that the members of our leadership hold the credential that we say is a distinguishing mark of professionalism, dedication to a set of principles and standards. This argument "We do not in any way mean to detract from the importance or credibility of APR ... However, we recognize that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of capable, passionate, experienced, and intelligent members of PRSA who have dedicated themselves to this organization through active membership and volunteerism" is specious. Allowing people to serve in national leadership positions when they do not hold this fundamental credential, which requires a bachelor's degree or its equivalent life-experience, inherently denigrates the credential. We should thank and honor those hundreds if not thousands of members who faithfully serve our organization and provide them with the support and encouragement they require to obtain the credential, not lower the barriers to national leadership. I do not want anyone serving at the national leadership level of my organization who cannot stand toe-to-toe with a CEO and argue forcefully that this credential is important. I learned many years ago that a salesperson can’t possibly sell a product that he or she doesn’t use. Trying to do so is a form of communication called propaganda that has no place as a practice among our membership at any level.