Earning the APR Designation

June 9, 2018
Dustin Manley

To date, over 452 public relation practitioners—including 39 CPRS Hamilton members—have validated their professional experience with the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation. The APR serves as a respected measure of professional experience and competence distinguishing its holders as leaders in the fields of public relations and communications management.

The peer validation signified by the APR is important to members within and outside of our community. At the 2018 National Conference in PEI, CPRS conferred the designation to 17 professionals and admitted a record number of 40 new applicants into the examination process for 2018/19.

To provide prospective applicants more information and answer their questions, Chief Examiner and CPRS Hamilton Member, Carleen Carroll, APR, FCPRS, held an information session at the beginning of the National Conference in PEI which was divided into the following sections:

Enrolling in the APR Examination Process

CPRS requires that APR applicants have at least 5 years of professional experience in the fields of public relations of communications management. That said, professionals enter the APR process at different stages of their careers; Carleen had 10 years of experience and sometimes others have upwards of 20. Whenever you feel confident and comfortable in challenging the exam is the best time to apply.

Work Sample

Applicants must provide a sample of a project they managed and measured within the last two years to the examination committee. These projects must demonstrate your capabilities as a leader, use of the RACE formula, and provide a budget. Carleen notes that in the event of budget confidentiality, calculate your hourly wage for the project and submit that number.

In lieu of the traditional work sample, applicants may also submit through the following avenues:

Career Educator Work Sample

To accommodate post-secondary educators who may not have samples of professional work, CPRS allows them to submit a curriculum the developed, implemented, and measured for a course in public relations and communications management.

Students in certain graduate programs may also use major projects, capstones, and theses to satisfy the work sample requirement. Please check with your program coordinator and the CPRS Accreditation board to determine eligibility.

ABC Challenge

Holders of other professional designations such as the ABC and CMP may satisfy the work sample requirement. Contact the CPRS Accreditation board to determine eligibility.

Written Exam

This 3.5-hour examination evaluates applicants’ knowledge and skills on the history, theory, ethics, and fundamentals of public relations and communications management practice. Carleen recommends starting with the Communications Plan first and answering the remainder of the questions from there.

Oral Exam

During this 45-60 minute process, three examiners will interview you based on the executive summary you submitted for your work sample and your knowledge of best practices and current events.

Carleen stresses the importance of following current events (e.g., sports, politics, celebrity) in preparation for the oral exam. For example, during her exam, Carleen was asked how she would counsel Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow during the NHL lockout.


To be successful, candidates require an overall score of 65% with no grades lower than 60% in the work sample, oral, and written exams.

Interested in learning more about the APR designation? Click here for the full slide presentation delivered by Carleen Carroll, APR, FCPRS for the CPRS National Conference in May 2018.