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High tech/biotech PR guy...wait, where are you going??

9.05.2006

Weighing in on accreditation

Kami Huyse, Todd Defren and many others are debating the merits of accreditation in the PR field.

A while back, a client of mine proudly announced on a conference call "Guess what...I'm now an APR!!" At that point, those of us on the agency team stared at each other blankly before I finally regained my senses and managed to sputter some falsely enthusiastic congratulations. Now, this team contained some of the agency's best, brightest and most experienced folks (present company excluded, of course...) and none of us had any idea what she was talking about.

I'm the first to admit that we were ignorant, but it's telling that a group of very successful PR pros had never even explored the possibility of accreditation. This is not necessarily indicative that getting your APR is not valuable at all, but it does demonstrate there is not the same inherent value in it as in say, passing the bar exam.

I respect the effort, intelligence and dedication it takes to become an APR or ABC. And I'm sure that most are better at PR than they were before they got the accreditation. But if the goal is to make PR more relevant and change how it is viewed in the larger business context (I'm paraphrasing Kami here, but I'm sure she'd agree it's accurate), this is simply not the right fix for that problem.

Since we all have a finite amount of time, energy and brainpower, it's imporant that we prioritize and focus on efforts that will go the farthest toward attaining Kami's objectives. Rather than prioritizing accreditation - which is akin to getting preached at while sitting in the choir - we need to dedicate our efforts to getting real experience in other business functions. Probably the most valuable job I've had was when I ran corporate communications for a biotech company in San Francisco. In that role, I did run PR, but I also actively participated in fundraising, corporate development, HR and operational decision-making. When I returned to agency life, I was able to offer counsel to my clients with a level of knowledge and credibility that I couldn't have earned if I was "just" a PR guy.

Granted, I was lucky that I had a CEO with a relatively unique view on the value of the communications function and who was comfortable with me spreading my wings in this way. Not every role will provide this type of exposure all in one place, but the point is if you are going to look to become a better PR pro, first look outside the function to add perspective, skills and experience.

1 Comments:

Blogger PR-Guy said...

Bingo.

2:10 PM  

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