This is an open letter to Carlos Arcila, external communications manager for Verizon Enterprise Solutions and accreditation chair of the New Jersey chapter of the PR Society, one of the 15 biggest with more than 300 members.
His job is to sell APR to the membership.
The problem is that APR is a destructive, expensive, bogus program that has helped drive away many major and minor PR players from the Society over the years and is harmful both to the Society and PR itself.
APR has decimated leadership because major PR executives refuse to go through the APR process. Only APRs have been able to hold national office since the 1970s.
Arcila, a grad of Montclair State University with a B.S. in business administration/marketing, needs to have his consciousness raised about APR.
Otherwise, both he and Verizon are being victimized by association with this program.
He was an account supervisor for MWW Group in 2007-08 and then worked four years and nine months for Ericsson, telecommunications firm. He has been with Verizon since January.
The APR multiple-choice exam, which will be in use ten years as of July 1, is a shadow of the former exam that involved 5.5 hours of writing. Participation by PR Society members in the latest ten years is less than half of what it was in the previous ten and even then it was a small number.
Anti-democratic and anti-information policies of the APRs have driven away not only major executives but many mid and lower-level PR practitioners. Membership of just over 21,000 currently is only a few hundred more than the 20,266 it was in 2000.
The Society can't get anyone to run for director for four of its ten districts.
The International Assn. of Business Communicators, after operating a similar Accredited Business Communicator program for decades, suspended it last Summer. There is little interest in reviving it. Only about 10% of members became ABC.
Verizon Is Only Blue Chip on PRSA/NJ
Verizon is the only major company among the employers of the 18 directors and committee chairs of the New Jersey chapter. PR executives of major companies and PR firms have gone to Page, Council of PR Firms, PR Seminar or even IABC (which will meet in New York in June for its national conference—something that PRSA may never do again—or at least not for the next five years).
Verizon is taking a hands-off position so far but it cannot help its name being dragged through the PRSA and APR mud. It is the APRs who moved Society h.q. downtown and away from the NY PR/press community without asking the Assembly.
They ditched the printed members' directory in 2005 again without getting permission. The directory could still be a PDF with members agreeing to let their names being used just like they did before. Editors continue to have their contact info on display via their own media and numerous services.
The APRs sold hundreds of thousands of copies of authors' articles without their permission from 1976-94 and refused to negotiate with them when caught red-handed. The authors, three of them academics and members of the Society, were advised by law firms that a suit would be very expensive to wage and copyright law was "murky. "
APRs are responsible for the harsh tactics against the O'Dwyer Co., including getting this reporter booted from the conference hotel in San Francisco in 2012 although VP-PR Arthur Yann said that PRSA had no boycott against any reporter.
Questions for Arcila
Following are questions for Arcila whom we hope will visit our offices and examine our files on APR.
One is whether he is personally in favor of dropping the APR rule for national offices. Members, starting with president-elect Steve Pisinski in 1999, have sought to overturn that rule without success.
Another is whether he thinks it is fair for the Society not to warn prospective members that they cannot hold national office or serve on the Ethics Board until they become APR, a process that costs $410.
Also, the Universal Accreditation Board says it's unethical to use APR for any competitive purposes. But national board and officers use such titles on their resumes and in new business pitches, a competitive use of such information.
What is Arcila's opinion of that?
More than 80% of the members are denied the right to have such credentials on their resumes or in their new business pitches. The Society's Educators Academy says that "dialogic looping" (answering questions) is the bedrock principle of PR and of social media.
We hope Arcila agrees.