The Pros and Cons: Why Earning an APR Matters

By Clare Wade, APR To your employers and LinkedIn. But mostly to you.

Five years ago, I closed my PR business. But I haven’t cleaned out my home office. With high hopes of completing our 16-year house renovation, I took another charge at trashing and recycling. During this last-ditch attempt, I ran across my pros and cons list. Make that lists. (Yes. I make lots of them.)

You know. Are you doing the right things in your life? Losing weight, being nicer to those you love? Are you doing less of the frustrating stuff that wears you down -- and more of the good, challenging, inspiring things that help you grow?

What about you? Will earning an APR be on your list? Take five minutes right now. Evaluate the pros and cons to know if you’re ready. Use any of these ideas to get started:


Earning an APR is time consuming. We all know how precious time can be. This is one of those “outside of work, late at night, early in the morning and sandwiched between anything left over” professional development opportunities. It’s a choice and a commitment.

Its value isn’t always understood. Many professions require years of post-graduate study, licensing or other stringent requirements. We know physicians, attorneys and CPAs are valued. What is PR and our accreditation worth?

Your employer might be lukewarm about it. Investing in employees costs time and money. How will earning an APR support your team and your organization? You are the key to creating that understanding. Talk to your supervisor. Show your team how increased PR knowledge can help make them and your company more successful.


APR tells employers that I take my profession seriously. LinkedIn agrees. Or at least provides automated encouragement. It might be right. During the accreditation process, I embraced the history of public relations, gathered evidence to help people understand its value – and in the end, understood how PR can make a business better. It increased my confidence and opened my eyes to how important honesty, ethical behavior and message integration are to a company’s brand and its business health.

APR signals that extra edge. Are you committed to high performance and high standards? APR helps distinguish pros from the pretenders. You will find an entire community of people with similar goals: who advocate the strengths of our profession, and who thrive on inspiring growth and common understanding among employees, customers and sales teams.

APR matters. To me. When you weigh the pros and cons, what is most important to you? I’m proud of the designation. It has helped advance my career. And it truly helped me grow.

It comes down to this. Are you doing the right things in your life? Less of the frustrating stuff -- and more of the good, challenging, inspiring things?

APR is one of those things. You can do it. Now’s the time to get started!

Clare Wade is former president of WMPRSA and the local AdFed, and two-time recipient of the WMPRSA PR Professional award.  Young at heart with several years of PR agency, corporate and on-your-owner experience, she is always up for the next adventure.

[RECAP] Navy Crisis Communications

By Ashley Curd, senior at Grand Valley State University On Wednesday, March 20th, aimWest joined with WMPRSA to host Lt. Matthew Allen, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Navy.  Lt. Allen has been in the Navy for the past 17 years, during his service he has spent time in the Middle East, received his APR accreditation and is currently working at the Navy news desk in Washington D.C.

Lt. Allen provided an overview of the Navy’s duties and all they do for not only the U.S., but also the rest of the world.  He also discussed Navy crisis communication and provided  examples of how they have used their PR efforts to manage four difficult situations within the last year.

The first crisis Lt. Allen spoke about was when the USS Guardian landed on a protected reef located off the coast of the Philippines in January.  The electronic maps that were provided to the Navy showed the reef located 7 miles from where it actually was, causing the ship to ground the reef.  The Navy’s communication efforts about the event were delayed and led to a misunderstanding of the situation among the Philippine citizens causing them to protest outside the U.S. Embassy.  Ultimately, the Navy made the decision to dismantle the ship in the hopes that they could minimize the damage to the reef by doing so.

The next crisis discussed was when a F-18 jet belonging to the Navy had both of it’s engines fail and it crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach.  Thankfully, none of the residents of the complex were injured and the pilots were able to eject themselves from the aircraft and survived as well.  After the crash the Navy focused on putting the community first, which ultimately allowed them to maintain their relationship with the local population.

The third crisis discussed was the shooting at the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre during the screening of the Batman movie this past summer.  When speaking to the media about the tragic event, it was the goal of the Navy to take the focus off the killer and bring it back to the victims, including one of the Navy’s own, Petty Officer John Larimer, who died trying to protect his date.

The final topic discussed was Sequestration and the role it has played in the Navy’s budget cuts, which led to the delayed deployment of the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman.  Both crew members of the Truman as well as their families have been affected and according to Lt. Allen, the Navy is currently in internal communication crisis mode.

Overall, Lt. Allen said that his role as a Public Affairs Officer is to be a bridge to get both the brand and sacrifice of the Navy’s sailors into public knowledge.

Build Your PR-sonal Brand

Accreditation Differentiates You as a Skilled Professional We live in exponential times. Version 6.0 of the “Shift Happens” video states that more new information will be created in 2013 than in the past 5,000 years. Technology and work responsibilities are changing fast. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s graduates will have 10-14 jobs by the time they are 38 years old. This leads to some obvious questions:

What are you doing to learn, grow, and build your qualifications?

What are you doing to set yourself apart?

How can you continue to build your personal brand?

As a PR professional, one of the best ways to distinguish yourself is through Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). According to PRSA, professionals who become accredited are more credible and have greater income. Becoming accredited is personal and deliberate, which demonstrates a commitment to the profession’s core knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). Some companies have even begun to require APR for new hires.

All excellence things are as difficult as they are rare, so goes the old adage. The process of gaining APR isn’t easy, but with some work, good direction, and persistence, you can succeed.  The key is being prepared and having the drive and desire to see it through. While there are no longer any prerequisites to apply for accreditation, it is recommended applicants have at least five years of experience.

The first phase of accreditation is the Readiness Review (RR), where you share your portfolio of work with three accredited peers. The second phase is an online exam that tests your application of PR knowledge. The cost is $385 if paid upfront, or $410 if spread into two payments. The APR process can be completed in a few months, however most applicants take nearly a year to finish.

Are you ready to make an investment in yourself and your future? West Michigan PRSA has a large number of accredited professionals ready to help. To pursue your APR, contact Patrick Bishop, WMPRSA APR Committee Chair, at You can also find a variety of APR resources at

Condolences to the Family, Friends and Colleagues of Fred Chapman, APR

Frederick "Fred" Chapman, APREarlier this week, Frederick "Fred" Chapman, APR passed away at the age of 82.  Fred earned his APR and was inducted into the Public Relations Society of America College of Fellows in 1991 - making him one of only a handful from the state of Michigan to earn that distinction. Many WMPRSA members likely remember him fondly as he continued to attend monthly programs until very recently.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, July 30, 2012, 11 AM at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Ionia. The family will receive friends and relatives on Sunday, July 29, 2012, from 2-4 and 6-8 PM at the Lake Funeral Home, 3521 S. State St. Ionia, and at 10 AM on Monday, July 30, prior to the 11 AM Mass. The family suggests donations to SS. Peter & Paul Education Trust or the Grand Valley State University School of Communications Scholarship Fund. Internment will be at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Ionia Township. On-line condolences may be made at

From the obituary:

CHAPMAN, FREDERICK Frederick A. Chapman, age 82, of Orleans Township, passed away in Grand Rapids, MI on July 25, 2012. He was born in Detroit to Frederick A. and Aurelia Denk Chapman of Ionia, MI on May 13, 1930. He was predeceased by his wife of almost 55 years, Helen "Pat" Chapman. He married Neonila (Nila) Chapman in March of 2010 and gained a step-daughter, Irina Perry and her husband, Michael, and a step- grandson, Alexander (Sasha). [...] A graduate of Wayne State University with a B.A. degree in journalism and a Master's degree in social science from the University of Detroit. He served in Korea with the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. Fred was a public relations executive and retired as press information manager from Mercedes-Benz of North America in Montvale, NJ, after 36 years in corporate advertising and public relations. Returning to West Michigan, he was an associate professor of communications at Grand Valley State University and retired from GVSU in 2000. Chapman was accredited and a Fellow in the Public Relations Society of America. He was president of the New England and the West Michigan chapters of PRSA as well as a national delegate to the association's national assembly. (More)

APR in April

West Michigan PRSA is pleased to announce an APR Prep "drop-in" day!Have you always wanted to gain Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)? Maybe you have questions about accreditation and how the process works? Now is the time to check it out! West Michigan PRSA is hosting an APR Prep "drop-in" day on Friday, April 13 from 9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. at Ferris State University's downtown Grand Rapids campus in the Applied Technology Center Room 180 (map available here). You can stop by at your convenience, ask questions, learn about the process, and pick up a hard-copy of the APR study guide. There's no pressure, no cost, and no reason why you should wait any longer to learn about gaining your Accreditation in Public Relations!

Questions? Email WMPRSA Accreditation Chair, Dr. Patrick Bishop, at