Every Fellows’ APR At Risk (+ thousands more) But first, a word about democracy . . . As defined by Lincoln, in the Gettysburg address (forgive the

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Every Fellows’ APR At Risk

(+ thousands more)

But first, a word about democracy . . .

As defined by Lincoln, in the Gettysburg address (forgive the slight paraphrase): democracy is governance of the people, by the people and for the people. In our case: of the members, for the members and by the members.

Art Stevens, in response to your quip: It ain’t so. The Board can configure itself any way it chooses so long as no one gets hurt in the process. Find a way to first see if the members even want this and, once you’ve determined that they do, propose a pain-free method to accomplish it.

This what I told my friend and colleague of many, many years, Art Stevens, in a phone call he initiated some weeks ago:

1). I am for a PRSA leadership that is supported by the members in whatever configuration and membership they will approve.

2). My objection is reconfiguring the leadership of our Society through what has been a largely secret, rushed, needlessly harsh strategy that harms the expectations, accomplishments and legacies of nearly 4000 active APR and APR+M members. Plus, a like number of retired and non-practicing APRs and APR+Ms.

3). Surely, we can find a harmless and peaceful way to accomplish this major change. Assuming the members want this change.

4). Is anyone looking for a peaceful, harmless path?

5). Do we know what members prefer? Let’s find out what they want. Then let the chips fall where they may.

6). I am advocating that we stop or defeat the current process in favor of a much broader and completely open process and to put democracy into action.

7). What’s the rush? Why the secrecy? What’s the real agenda of the proponents? Why is my patriotism being challenged?

8). My constructive counterproposal is to begin again using the strategy developed by then BEPS Chair, Bob Strause, of Washington State led by 1999 PRSA President Sam Waltz and members of the Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) who took on the task to revise the Code of Ethics. Here, in brief, is what happened -- democracy broke out:

Two PRSA Boards at the time funded objective research by outside ethics experts.
The PRSA Boards funded focus groups across the nation.
The PRSA Boards funded outside ethics experts to advise the Board and BEPS and to make independent recommendations. Some were accepted, some weren’t.
Two PRSA boards actively engaged in seeking member opinions, ideas and suggestions and they reviewed all of it.
Members everywhere eagerly discussed, argued, suggested, even made demands. All was available to members; all was considered as the new Code was drafted. Each, even just pieces of drafts, were available for review, discussion, argument and revision.
There was conflict, controversy, strong opinions and compromise.
The PRSA Assembly met during ICON 2000 and unanimously approved the new code.
That’s how democracy works -- and we all know it because we all live it today and every day.
Here’s the problem: none of this has been applied to the decision to demote APRs.

9). I would be delighted to apply the principles and expectations and behaviors of democracy to this decision.

10). As John Lennon might have said and written a song about, and I agree with, let’s give democracy a chance. Vote this flawed effort down. Let’s begin again, if that’s the members want, and do what our profession is destined to do better than anyone or group.

11). Let’s put real democracy, of the members, for the members, and by the members into action to make the best decision together.

12). Then let the chips fall where they may.

This is what I have written about these past several weeks and talked directly about with Art Stevens. Clearly, I remember the conversation differently. Glad to have this chance to set the record straight.

Yes, let’s give real democracy a chance.

It’s up to each of us to get on the phone and instruct our Assembly Reps (who vote on this issue on Sunday) or have your Chapter President do it.

Let’s give Abraham Lincoln’s democracy a chance. Tell ‘em to vote NAY on Sunday.


Now The News


“Vote NAY on Both”

PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) Resolution Against Proposed Bylaw Amendments 21-02 and 21-03

After consideration of proposed bylaw amendments 21-02 and 21- 03, that would remove the eligibility requirement of "Accreditation in Public Relations" (APR) for national directors and officers on the PRSA National Board, the 2021 Officers of the College of Fellows recommend a "nay" vote on both amendments.

The officers recognize and understand that there is no consensus among the members of the College of Fellows on this issue, just as there is no consensus among the membership of the Society. We respect both sides of the issues and believe a healthy, courteous debate on the issue is important.

Further, the officers appreciate the work of the Governance Committee for listening to feedback from the 2020 bylaws amendment discussion and engaging in research to support the important work of governing the Society.

Still, the officers believe that, if the APR is to remain valued in PRSA, then it should be recognized at the highest level of governance in the Society. If the credential truly, as stated on the PRSA website, "certifies your drive, professionalism, and principles, setting you apart from your peers and positioning you as a leader and mentor in the competitive public relations field," then it should remain an eligibility requirement for board service.

The 2021 College of Fellows Officers believe that PRSA must continue its focus on the importance of and value of accreditation, along with a strategic, concerted effort to promote a career-long membership path: from PRSSA and the Certificate in the Principles of Public Relations to New Professionals to the APR and to the College of Fellows.

2021 College of Fellows Officers
Greg Bailey, APR, Fellow PRSA – Chair
Margaret Ann Hennen, APR, Fellow PRSA – Chair-Elect
Olga Mayoral Wilson, APR, Fellow PRSA – Vice Chair
Philip Poole, APR, Fellow PRSA – Secretary-Treasurer
Barbara Kerr, APR, Fellow PRSA – Immediate Past Chair

Way to GO College of Fellows Officers!

Just To Refresh Your Memory

PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) Resolution Against Proposed Bylaw Amendments 21-02 and 21-03

BEPS strongly disagrees with the four rationales presented for removing the APR requirement for national board directors and officers to lower the standard to “APR strongly preferred,” and, as such, is against these two amendments.


The APR demonstrates more than one’s expertise in public relations. APR also shows that the designate has an understanding of ethics and law, the basics for moral decision making, improving business relationships, and prohibiting inappropriate behavior.

Removing the APR as a requirement eliminates the fundamental assurance of knowledge of decent conduct, sound business practices and a deeper understanding of our six ethics code values (Honesty, Expertise, Fairness, Advocacy, Loyalty and Independence) and our six ethics code principles (Enhancing the Profession, Competition, Conflicts of Interest, Free Flow of Information, Disclosure of Information, and Safeguarding Confidences).
APR defines who we are an organization and as individual professionals.

The APR designation is the gold standard for many organizations/industries. PRSA must continue to require it for national leadership within our own organization.

Please find below the four Rationales presented in the proposed bylaw amendments, and BEPS’ refutation of each of them.

Rationale #1 from amendment against APR requirement.

This proposed amendment updates the eligibility for PRSA Board service from a minimum of PRSA leadership experience or length of time in the profession to competency-based qualifications that will build a highly capable and effective board, improve the Nominating Committee’s selection process, and result in a stronger and more diverse range of candidates.

Rebuttal of Rational #1, and for maintaining the APR requirement.

Regarding competency and our top national leadership offices with purview over our treasury and finances and setting the strategic direction of the international organization: The Accreditation computer-based exam (CBE) includes testing on competencies to include leadership skills of business literacy, organizational skills, problem solving, organizational governance, and relationships among PR, legal, finance, and IT as management functions. APR is a level field assurance of basic business competency by our leadership. There are means of ensuring the expressed objective of diversity in the selection process, however removing the APR requirement is not one of them.

To build a highly capable and effective board, the national designation that tests leadership capabilities within our industry and across business sectors, that of APR, must be required.

Rational #2 from amendment against APR requirement.

Maintaining a strong preference – not a requirement – that district director and officer candidates hold an APR eliminates a barrier to PRSA leadership. It is a critical step in building a high-performing board and reflects association governance best practices.

Rebuttal of Rational #2, and for maintaining the APR requirement.

There is currently a candidate pool of approximately 3,500 APR and APR+M PRSA members and growing from which to recruit for 20 national positions. If 2% of APRs sought national office, that would be 70 candidates for 20 positions.

It is illogical to say that certification requirements for board membership lessen best practices. It is through certification that competency in best practices is maintained. The two-prong APR process is a confirmation that the professional has been trained in best practices.

Rationale #3 from amendment against APR requirement.

The APR credential recognizes mastery of the knowledge, skills and abilities of PR professionals and distinguishes the holder as a leader and mentor in the competitive public relations field. An APR alone, however, does not guarantee competencies needed for board service. Additional proficiencies include, but are not limited to, governance experience; organizational awareness and commitment; financial acumen; strategic and critical thinking; and pursuing change leadership to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Rebuttal of Rationale #3, and for maintaining the APR requirement.

We agree no one criterion ensures competence. An APR credential has never been the sole requirement for board leadership, nor is this being advocated. We agree additional proficiencies are required for board membership, and presumably the selection process for board members has always included a holistic analysis of a candidate’s experience. However, demoting the APR credential to preferred does not achieve the competencies results articulated in this rationale.

What the APR alone does do, compared to the other criteria offered, is provide safeguards for ethics and professional standards the others do not. APR is the only quantifiable resource the Society maintains for equitable measurement of knowledge of PR ethics and laws that pertain to our industry. In addition, the APR designation is rooted in the lifelong application of the PRSA Code of Ethics. The APR ethics CEU must be supported, celebrated, and required for continuing ethics education for the business relevancy of our national officers.

Rationale #4 from amendment against APR requirement:

Delegates and members alike expressed a desire to increase diverse representation at all levels of leadership within PRSA and to remove barriers to achieving this goal. Expanding the pool of candidates eligible for board positions will lead to an increase in candidates who have diverse backgrounds, professional experience, and the desired leadership and governance competencies necessary to advance PRSA’s strategic go.

Rebuttal of Rationale #4, and for maintaining the APR requirement.

We reject the rationale that the APR requirement is a barrier to diverse leadership. The issue with diverse PRSA leadership is systemic, and must be researched at every level and in every arena, and we encourage this work. We need robust data about the demographics of our APRs.

In seeking diversity, the objective is to not remove a standard, but to improve access and equity to the standard. Removing a standard of excellence is not

removing a barrier, but diminishes the competencies and skill sets of the people you are seeking to recruit to leadership positions. Best practices in diversity include equity and inclusion. Equity, or its synonym fairness, is a core value of the PRSA Code of Ethics.

While there are many paths to a public relations career, academic degrees and professional credentialing are not synonymous. A PhD or master’s degree does not preclude APR. This is why you see many members who have both or all three credentials. The APR certifies a common frame of reference.

Of note: In the past, geography has hampered recruiting candidates. We have many candidates from some districts, then none from other districts. Opening recruitment nationally to APR candidates could provide a larger pool of talent.

For all of the above reasons, BEPS strongly recommends retaining the APR requirement.

Via unanimous consent, the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards encourages delegates to vote nay on Amendment Proposals 21-02 and 21-03.

Respectfully submitted,

PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards members:
BJ Whitman, MBA, APR, Fellow PRSA (Chair)
Stacy Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA (Secretary)
Cayce Myers, Ph.D., LL.M., J.D., APR
Heather Morgan, APR Joyce Lofstrom, MS, APR
Karen Swim, APR
Krista Terrell, APR
Linda L. Staley, MS, APR, Fellow PRSA
Meredith Libbey, MBA, APR
Michele Ewing, MA, APR, Fellow PRSA
Paula Pedene, APR, Fellow PRSA
Theresa Carpenter Master MWC, APR+M

Please Remember . . .

This Is Your Fight, PRSA Members. This Is Your Standard of Excellence.

This Is Your Dream. This Is Your Legacy.

This Is Your Profession . . .If You Can Keep It.

STOP Looking the Other Way.

Make the effort to stop it.

Contact your assembly rep today.

In Fact, DO IT NOW.

If we fail . . .

A new and very changed PRSA will emerge.

Things will be different.

Believe me.

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