Posts tagged ‘APR’

I’m accredited for another 3 years — here’s why that’s good

I got a note from the Public Relations Society of America the other day informing me that my accreditation has been renewed. That means I can put that APR thing after my name for the next three years.

The second paragraph of the letter warned me to start collecting continuing education and professional development hours because in 2014, I’m again going to need to show that I’m keeping up with whatever the world is throwing at us.

I get a kick out of all the debates I see on Linked-In and other places about accreditation. All I know is that my father, Norman, was an APR (among the first) and the credential served him well and that it has served me well.

So what do those three initials mean to my clients?

Well, let me start by telling you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that I have any official status that my unaccredited colleagues don’t have. And I readily admit that there are some excellent practitioners out there who, unfortunately, are not accredited. I don’t get to charge clients more for my APR. And I don’t buy the idea that masters degrees in PR have replaced accreditation.

 OK, so it’s nice to put those letters after my name. What does it do for my clients?

Jim Lukaszewski, APR, once told me that APR stood for “accepting personal responsibility.” I told him I was going to steal that line and use it and now I have. But that’s one of the things it means: Clients know that I take responsibility for my professionalism and my behavior.

  • Related to personal responsibility, APR is a pledge to live by the PRSA Code of Ethics and conduct myself accordingly. By extension, it’s a commitment to demand a level of ethical behavior from colleagues and clients. So clients who hire me know that they’ll be treated ethically and that I’ll represent them aggressively, but ethically. They also know that I’ll expect that courtesy returned.
  • Also related to personal responsibility, the APR – and the warning to start piling up new CEUs — is a commitment to professional growth. At my age, it would be easy to coast. Instead, I keep up with developments in my chosen profession. That means I understand social media as well as traditional media. It means I am current with thinking on how the law applies to public relations. And it means I don’t just talk about social media and turn a kid loose to explain it. Instead, I understand it as a tactic and how it fits into a communications strategy.  Clients, then, know they’re getting somebody who understands public relations and communications, and the latest technology and trends in research, communications and measurement, but also has some perspective about how those fit a strategic approach to communications.
  • I enjoy the company my APR puts me in. For clients, that means they get the advantages of a network where I’m usually only a couple of phone calls away from top-notch people to help me accomplish whatever the client needs done.

In short, my APR is a commitment to myself and to my clients to do the best job I can for them. So there’s no debate in my mind that accreditation is good for me and good for my clients.

 Signed: Doug Fenichel–APR

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June 14, 2011 at 11:38 am

In-House PR is not just a blog anymore. It’s a full-service agency. May I help you?

I’ve been putting this off, but it’s time to make the big announcement: I’m hanging out my own shingle.

My new public relations firm will be called In-House Public Relations, and this blog will be my soap box. The firm, in fact, is named after the blog, which has been around for three years. It’s as good a reason for an agency’s name as any other.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh great. Just what we need: Another one-man PR shop.” I’ve said the same thing myself. But times have changed for me and for the business world. In addition, I bring something special the table: my energy, my outlook and my passion.

For more than 20 years, I’ve helped organizations large and small tell their stories, build their reputations and use strategic communications and engagement to meet their business goals. Being passionate about your reputation permeates an organization, influences the behavior of its employees and makes its stories compelling and credible. That, in turn, leads to business success.

In-House Public Relations will focus on real estate, homebuilding and related businesses, applying what I’ve learned over the past 11 years in that business. My sites also are set on clients in the public safety area, where I can combine my years of communications experience with my even-more years as a firefighter and paramedic. I’ve also worked in telecommunications, automotive, packaging and other areas. Naturally, I’m more than happy to work with any organization.

I moved from journalism to public relations to join the internal team that took AT&T through its historic break-up. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work with and around people who bring uncompromising quality to the job, as well as a high sense of ethics. By quality, I mean a strategic view, attention to the client’s needs, effective and measurable tactics and a lot of energy to get it all done.  The network of top-notch professionals I’ve put together over the years and through my active involvement with the Public Relations Society of America will become my clients’ network.

Over the years, I’ve successfully used most of the tools in my box: sales support, media relations, crisis management, employee communications, government affairs, special events and social networking. I have the insight and experience of a guy who’s been around the block once or twice and the technical skills to understand the latest social media trends. What’s equally important is I see how they all work together strategically.

So why head out on my own now? I believe the current economy is creating new opportunities. In-House Public Relations is an example of that new economy, and is taking advantage of the opportunities it has created.

As large companies shed staff in response to the economic downturn, those people used their expertise to set up smaller companies. While they might not be able to do things on the scale of their former employers, their smaller scale, lower overhead and more nimble structure enables them to do things their former employers couldn’t do. The Fortune-750 national homebuilder I worked for over the past decade has spun off at least two new homebuilders, a floor-covering store, home-design consultants, sales coaches and others…and now a public relations firm. These new, smaller companies also need public relations counsel, just as they need financial and legal counsel. A firm like mine can use its network to take care of a large national or regional organization’s needs, and we welcome that opportunity. But we have more flexibility and lower overhead, enabling us take care of these new companies’ needs, as well.

I’ve spent most of the past 20-odd years as a client. That is, I was the in-house public relations counsel for different organizations. I know what clients need. I know how I liked being treated. And now I’ve got the opportunity to meet that high bar for my clients.

And now, a demonstration of my new entrepreneurial technique: Give me a call. Let me be your in-house public relations counselor.  At least wish me good luck.

May 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm

The Good Seminar: The Needle In the Haystack of Spam

Public relations people must be  (to put it politely) very much in need of further education.  A day doesn’t go by that I’m not being buried in offers for seminars on this, that or the other thing, mostly related to social media.  Well, maybe somebody just thinks I’m dumb and in need of educamation, but…

As an APR, I’m thoroughly committed to constantly improving my “skill set.” But I could spend my whole career doing nothing but attending seminars, webinars and workshops. And I’m not convinced I would know much more than I know now.

I counted: Between Sept. 27 and Oct. 1, I received at least 23 solicitations for educational opportunities. And that doesn’t include the ones buried in newsletters and blogs I read from places like the Public Relations Society of America, the Daily Dog, Ragan and HARO.  They fill my mailbox like weeds in a garden and cost me time just getting rid of them. If a good one comes, it probably gets deleted with the trash.

You can’t get enough education, especially with things changing as quickly as they are. What worries me is that I could teach most of the classes being pitched to me, even about social media. That’s not a comment on my great wisdom, but on the basic (and safe for the instructor) nature of the offerings. I have this strong suspicion that many of these instructors and educational services providers are coming from (a) practitioners who are out of work or (b) agencies that want me be impressed and hire them. Many are being aimed at unemployed PR people who are feeling a little desperate…and can least afford to spend money on mediocre programs.

If the free market in educational services is to work, we need some way of judging all these classes and the people who are teaching them. We need a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for these offerings.

How do you select programs? I, for one, gravitate toward PRSA-sponsored programs or other classes from other places I’ve grown to trust like Ragan and Bulldog. I’m curious what other people to do.

PRSA is meeting next week in Washington, D.C. Lots of interesting things on the Assembly’s agenda, including improving continuing education offerings since they generate a large sum of money and prestige for the organization. Wouldn’t it be interesting, though, if PRSA (I can’t think of a better-qualified organization) established some standards for classes and teachers and offered some sort of objective rating or approval system? Wouldn’t that make it easier to select classes? And it might run some of the poorer programs out of business.

Whaddya say, PRSA?

October 8, 2010 at 10:47 am 1 comment

More discussion on the APR

One of the reasons I love going to the PRSA International Conference is that I — a lone PR guy among a bunch of people who have a variety of wrong ideas about what I do to assure that they are putting their best foot forward — am surrounded by enthusiatic PR practitioners including some of the best minds in the business. And while I’m proud of my APR, not all of those “best minds” have their APR.

One of the things I don’t like about representing my colleagues at the Assembly, the governing body of PRSA, is the continued discussions that link the APR with governance…but that’s another post.

I often try to convince those without the APR that it’s worth pursuing. Many tell me it isn’t worth the time or that it doesn’t garner enough recognition outside of the industry.  It’s frustrating. I did my APR at a time when I decided I needed to commit 100 percent to public relations as a career or move on. Nobody in my office understands why my APR is important, but it’s important to me. I think I’m a better practitioner because of some things I learned and because it enhanced my understanding of and commitment to the profession. I don’t understand how something that stands for a commitment to continued professional development and a high ethical stance can be unworthy of someone’s time.

But I was never a great salesman.

Mary Barber, APR, apparently is a better sales person. Ari Adler, a public relations practitioner who attended the conference in San Diego (I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet, Ari!) talked with Mary about APR and was so impressed, he blogged about it. See his post and Mary’s explanation of the APR at http://bit.ly/2otXB.

Ari also talks about APRs having “an attitude.” Man, I hope I’m not one of those. I’ll be trying to do better when I talk about APR in the future!

November 17, 2009 at 2:54 pm

The APR Debate Rages: I Say Go For It!

Jeremy Porter has an interesting post and conversation going at his blog, Journalistics, about the APR. You can read his post at http://bit.ly/3LOF96.

Here’s my response to him:

I’ve been an APR for many years, have helped others through the process and I encourage all PR practitioners to go for it.

Public relations is one of those professions that seems to always by on the defensive, and I’m not sure why. It’s also a term that’s constantly used inappropriately: I’ve seen want ads for escorts described as public relations (yes, the “l” was in there).  APR after your name shows a level of professionalism and a commitment to the field. Yes, you can demonstrate that — and you’ll have to anyway — but the APR immediately sets you apart from those who don’t have it for whatever reason.

A prominent PR guy that I know says APR stands for accepting personal responsibility. To me it has two sides: The personal improvement side and public face.

It was the first formal training in PR that I had after coming into the business from the newsroom and working in the field for almost 10 years! The things I learned were incredible and changed how I practiced PR. It has helped me to be a better public relations professional and a better counselor.

Unfortunately, those who say it’s not well known in the business community are correct, and I wish we could change that. But “APR” after your name is a conversation starter. You will be asked what it means…and that gives you a chance to talk about a committment to constant professional development and ethical behavior. It’s a conversation that helps raise your own reputation (and sell your services) in any setting.

I’m proud of my APR. I urge all practitioners to pursue it. What have you got to lose?

October 15, 2009 at 11:14 am


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