This year, the PRSA Assembly had a smaller agenda than last year’s conference in San Diego. Two amendments to the Bylaws were somewhat housekeeping in nature. Defining terms of Board service and softening the language on the Code of Ethics. Both passed without debate.
Another amendment, dropping the proposed requirement of the APR credential for service on the national board, was far more contentious. The debate was civil, with many speakers citing the pros and cons of the amendment. A similar amendment was proferred at last year’s assembly and on other occasions. All those amendments have failed.
Those in favor of the amendment cited opening up board leadership to those who serve but who have not taken advantage of the accreditation credential. A number of APRs and Fellows spoke in favor of the amendment, urging the group to separate governance and certification. Others who spoke in favor of the amendment sought the change to eliminate the divisiveness among membership about what the meaning of an APR credential really reflects. They also cited the rigorous process by which a member who is seeking national office must undergo to make that happen.
Assembly delegates speaking against the amendment spoke about the need to maintain standards and expectations among our national board. One speaker against the amendment said “anyone can take that test,” for the APR credential.
It is interesting to note that among the PRSA membership nationwide, only 25% of the membership are accredited. In the San Antonio chapter, the percentage is 20%. The PRSA San Antonio Board is challenged with filling board positions each year that require APR. Most of our board leadership positions do not require the APR credential, and in fact, our board could not function if it was a requirement.
As chapter delegates to this Assembly, Fran Stephenson and Christie Goodman, APR, we voted for this amendment because the board wanted more opportunities for chapter leadership to serve at the national level. Because the motion failed, the San Antonio chapter will have a more difficult road to having a voice at the national level. While we strongly believe in the power of the credential for many public relations practitioners, we see this as a governance issue, not an accreditation issue.
Watch for more as the International Conference gets underway in Washington D.C.