Poll: APR versus M.B.A.

A couple weeks ago, I asked if APR accreditation still has any value in the PR world. That post led to lots of interesting comments that covered the entire spectrum of thoughts – from die-hard APR’ers to people who think it holds no weight as a credential to folks who can’t make up their minds either way.

In the last comment on that post, Lee Freedman mentions once hearing an APR-toting PR pro likening the accreditation to obtaining your M.B.A. I have my own thoughts on that, which I’ve shared as the first comment on this post.

BUT, before you read that, I’m interested in what you think about pitting the APR versus the M.B.A. Sure, there are major differences between the two in terms of time and costs to obtain, so I’ve added a question that recognizes that.

So, please take a second to vote on both polls below. And feel free to expand on your thoughts in the comments. If you blog about PR-related issues, please consider sharing this post and these polls with your readers to extend the conversation.

*Image by David Goehring.

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9 responses to “Poll: APR versus M.B.A.

  1. Given its value in the business world and the PR rallying cry to “get a seat at the table,” I think the M.B.A wins this contest hands down. Yes, the APR can help us approach communications challenges from a more strategic level, which is great. But understanding business challenges could help us significantly when it comes to crafting communications strategies that seize business opportunities and deliver results against business goals.

    For those reasons, I also think it returns more value despite its higher costs and the longer time necessary to obtain it.

  2. I would think someone with an MBA would have some courses in PR along the way. Marketing courses are required and there are good fundamental PR tips used in marketing.

  3. As I have stated before, I think APR accreditation adds no value. As someone who has been in the PR business for 25 years, I have never once had anyboday ask whether I or my partners were APR. Nor, do I think they even cared or for that matter even knew what it was. To me, APR accreditation is worth less than the paper it it printed on.

  4. I do have an MBA (Elon ’08), but don’t have an APR, so I’m not really qualified to judge the value of an APR.

    But, if someone tomorrow said I could trade my MBA for the APR, there is no way I would take that offer. I value my MBA too much: It gave me a good understanding of the major functional areas in business (finance, marketing, strategy, etc.) and gives me the tools to at least talk intelligently with people in those areas. It also gave me a broad, strategic view of business that I’m not sure you get if PR is your only perspective.

    Having said all that, though, I think things like drive, intelligence, creativity and good people skills are probably more important than any credential for success in public relations or any other field.

  5. As an APR, I’d call it a nice-to-have when a peer sees it on your business card or when a help wanted ad includes it as a desired credential, and it certainly filled in knowledge gaps from my journalism-oriented education. But this is an Apples-to-Kiwis comparison. After years of attempts at promoting its value (and after churning out many a proud APR-lapel-pin-wearing member) it still hasn’t caught on with the business community the way PRSA had hoped. I would never diss PR accreditation, but the MBA is different and in an entirely different league, so that’s where my vote would go.

  6. I don’t see that they are even comparable. I have always seen the APR as a personal goal, one that may or may not have value to an employer, but that I want to accomplish for myself. As it happens, my last boss would have valued it along those personal goal lines but it wouldn’t have created any sort of promotion or monetary gain; and my current boss would value it as both a personal and professional goal (and would recommend a raise because of it). The only difference is the current field I’m employed in (health care PR where people understand and value lots of letters behind your name).

    I see the MBA or MA as an almost completely professional goal. For me, when I go back to school for an advanced degree, it will be because of career goals, not just because I’ve got loads of extra time.

    You can’t compare an exam and interview (APR) with a program that will take two years and a lot of personal time (MBA). It’s apples to oranges.

    I hope to achieve both the APR and my masters, but one will be for personal accomplishment, and the other for professional advancement. Interesting conversation though!

  7. @Jeff – You’re right. It’s a bit of an unfair comparison. But I pitted them against each other for a couple reasons.

    1. I have heard many accredited PR pros liken it to getting an MBA in terms of the professional value received after obtaining. Of course, many accredited PR folks would never say that, but some do. And others – while not saying it directly – act like it.

    2. I work often with college juniors and seniors and, if I had to guess, probably 1 in every 10 or so asks about post-grad education options like ” do you think I should get my master’s in communications or and MBA.” Many times, APR comes up in conversation. I know what I think about all three of those options, but was interested in what others think about them, particularly MBA and APR.

    I completely agree with you. I don’t diss accredited pros. There is great learning to be had while preparing for the test. But my point is that it doesn’t have the value – certainly not in the business world, but also not even in our own profession – that an MBA has.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  8. @sherry – we were both leaving comments at the same time, so you didn’t get to see my reply to Jeff.

    1. I agree that it’s apple to oranges, but too many PR folks try to make APR seem as valuable as something like an MBA by the way it’s talked about in terms of what you and the profession get out of it. I believe it’s value is overstated a lot of the time. Doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthwhile venture for any particular individual. Heck, I may go through the process some day. I just hope we’re assigning an appropriate value to it.

    2. You’re right. The APR is a test and interview versus a two-year, intensive program. That’s why I added the second poll question. Technically, anyone could think that the MBA is more valuable than the APR, but also think the APR provides more ROI given how much time, effort and dollars one needs to invest to get an MBA. I think it’s been interesting to see that, despite that, people still think the MBA provides the most ROI.

    Thanks for the compliment. I’m really glad you took the time to weigh in. It’s appreciated!

  9. Sweet. I just finished my MBA last spring, so it sounds like I picked wisely. 🙂 Personally, I was very interested in expanding my business acumen and really understanding my clients (I worked at a PR agency when I started the MBA). Today, I feel my employer benefits because I am a well-rounded marketing professional. With an MBA, I consult and contribute more strategically and more thoroughly than ever. Plus, I’m much more sensitive to other areas of operation.

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