Is an APR for You? Short Answer – Yes

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Is an APR for You? Short Answer – Yes

Contribution by James Scott Rawlinson, Colonel, US Army, APR+M


Who should get an APR? The better question is, “Who shouldn’t?”

I’m probably not among the targeted public relations professionals who get encouraged to pursue their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). For one, I don’t work in Public Relations. More importantly, I pursued mine near the end of a 30-year military career. However, I think that’s why I’m a good choice to encourage young professionals to seek out this educational opportunity.


I suspect many of us sought out careers in communication because we’re drawn to storytelling and the satisfaction that comes from our words and ideas being used to support our organizations. Even after all this time, I still get a thrill when I see my words in print or on a screen to advance or explain an initiative or concept. The APR is a wonderful resource for people like me who want to get the most out of our contributions and who hope that we’re successfully connecting with the audience we’re trying to reach. Whether you’re just starting your career or want to refine your skills, there’s something for everyone.


What is an APR?

According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential certifies PR professionals’ drive, professionalism, and principles. It asserts professional competence, communicates professional dedication and expertise and reflects progressive PR industry practices and high standards. The PR industry is competitive, and an APR helps position professionals as thought leaders in their field. 


The traditional accreditation for experienced PR professionals is known as the APR. Military communications experts, like me, can earn the Accreditation in Public Relations + Military Communication (APR+M). Also, aspiring PR professionals such as college seniors and recent grads can pursue a Certificate in Principles of Public Relations to help stand out amongst their peers.


My APR Journey

By the time I decided to pursue my accreditation in Public Relations + Military Communication, I had already successfully served as an Army Public Affairs Officer for 20 years. I’d been serving in this role in multiple types of commands in different theaters of conflict and in support of Army priorities. Additionally, I’d been trained in planning and resourcing my entire career. In short, I thought I knew what I needed to know.


However, while my training and experience had served me well, I still wanted to better understand how to better integrate what I knew into the military decision-making process. PAOs–as we are called–play an important role in advising commanders in their decisions. The more efficient we can be in articulating and quantifying the effects of public affairs on military decisions, the better those decisions are likely to be.


In all honesty, I wasn’t entirely sure what the APR would do to get me closer to that goal. I was pleasantly surprised at just how relevant and immediately useful the principles were and noticed direct correlations in the principles of RPIE, ethics, history, legal, and regulatory considerations. My only regret? I didn’t pursue it sooner in my career.


Therefore, I’m thrilled for the opportunity to encourage others to start their APR journey through my role as the NAPRCA’s Vice President of Ethics and Accreditation. Even in the absence of this position, I would continue to champion this educational program for any young or mid-level PR professional who seeks to offer as much as they can. You’re already passionate about your craft; the APR will help you get others equally passionate about what you bring to the table.


If you’re interested in pursuing an APR, APR+M, or Certificate in Principles of Public Relations, please contact James Scott Rawlinson, Colonel, US Army, APR+M at


About This Post

Posted on April 18, 2024
Posted by Emily Rodrick