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Become Certified to Stand Out in the PR Industry

Published on Nov. 15 at 6:45 p.m.
by Lauren Barnes.

In the job-hunt process, students often look for ways to help their resume stand out. Certifications can add credibility and sets a higher standard in any industry. Public relations is a relatively young academic field, going back “only about the last 50 years,” according to a study published by the  Journal of Communication.

Though a newer industry when compared to its counterparts, the PR field is no less legitimate. Practitioners build networks and hone their skills through membership in professional organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and rigorous master’s degree programs. In an interview with PRWeek, Karla Gower, director for The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, said PR pioneer, Betsy Plank “worked hard to professionalize the industry [by] work[ing] to elevate PR education and set[ting] standards so that people coming out with a PR degree were well qualified. She saw APR accreditation as important because [PR practitioners] didn’t have licensing.”

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Public relations practitioners wear numerous hats, and earning certifications can not only make a résumé stand out but also increase one’s professional development. According to Sterling Career Concepts, “There is no better way to prove you have a specific set of competencies than to include the relevant certification on your resume.” Here are three unique certifications that could add to a PR practitioner’s tool kit.

Accredited in Public Relations

The APR certification is a general certification in public relations. The program was created by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) and PRSA. To get accredited, practitioners complete an application, panel presentation and examination. Afterward, certificate holders must demonstrate lifelong learning through renewing the accreditation every three years.

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While only PR practitioners with five years of professional experience are eligible to apply for the APR program, recent public relations graduates can apply for a certificate in Principles of Public Relations. Recipients of an APR certification show that they go the extra mile to excel in their practice. The APR accreditation is one to aim for in your career because it shows to others in the industry the dedication you have to public relations as a practice.

Adobe Certified Professional

The Adobe certifications are great for students beginning to work in a creative field and others who want to sharpen their creative software skills. Adobe Certified Professional certification shows employers that the certificate holder knows how to use Adobe programs efficiently and can effectively complete graphic design and other creative tasks assigned to them. There are exams for seven of Adobe’s programs: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Animate and Dreamweaver. Anyone would like to be certified in their preferred program only needs to schedule that specific exam and locate a test center.

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Most graphic design classes teach foundational skills in Adobe programs and numerous universities offer Adobe creative cloud software to students for free, so there are many opportunities for students to practice before sitting for any exams. These certifications also need to be renewed every three years to keep up with technological advancements. These distinctions demonstrate initiative to employers of emerging PR grads working with graphic design in their careers.

Certified Meeting Planner

The Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) is a useful certification for anyone looking to stand out in event marketing and public relations. According to Cooksey Strategic Communications, PR plays a critical role in the success of any event and there’s a variety of channels available to take advantage in the promotion of an event”. Meetings and events are a fundamental part of a successful public relations campaign; this authorization verifies to professionals in the event marketing industry that the holder is capable of organizing successful, large-scale events.

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Created by the Events Industry Council, to sit for a CMP, you must first have an approved application showing 25 hours of education and 36 months of professional experience in events. An industry report published by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) showed that “meeting planners who hold the CMP earn (on average) $10,756 more annually than their non-certified counterparts.”

While certifications are not required in the public relations industry, they can be a great way to verify your skill set to your professional network, strengthen your résumé and learn more about that skill. For recent grads and young professionals, getting accredited can be a great goal to work toward as your career is starting.

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