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Competencies / KSAs Tested

Detailed Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) Tested in the Computer-Based Examination


Analytical skills
Distinguishes between objectives and goals. Recognizes the difference between strategies and tactics. Objectively interprets data. Thinks logically.
Audience identification and communication
Identifies appropriate audiences (publics) and the concerns of each, including employees, investors, suppliers, community, industry analysts, and government and non-government. Prioritizes and properly sequences communications to the different audiences (publics). Tailors messages to various audiences (publics).
Evaluation of programs
Determines if goals and objectives of public relations program were met. Determines if, and the extent to which, the results or outcomes of public relations programs have been accomplished. Develops, states, and tests a public relations program's informational, motivational, and behavioral objectives using qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
Financial management
Prepares, justifies, and/or controls the budget for public relations programs/departments/agencies. Plans, administers, and monitors expenditures to ensure cost-effective support of public relations program. Maintains thorough and accurate records of expenditures. Bills clients accurately. Keeps accounts payables and receivables current.
Planning ability
Develops a comprehensive public relations plan that reflects the organization's needs including appropriate sequencing of plan elements.
Research (Applied)
Gathers information about the client, company, or organization for which the practitioner is working. Gathers information on issues to help develop objectives, strategies, and target audiences (priority publics) using a variety of research tools (the Internet, interviews, library, focus groups). Plans and interprets research activities from the public relations activity at hand (projects, crisis management). Takes into account message recipients' understanding of the product, company, candidate, and issue when conducting research.
Research (Basic)
Develops a premise. Develops the research plan. Determines appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods. Decides on the population and sampling techniques to use with that population. Designs instruments (questionnaire, interview, etc.). Uses the acceptable techniques to collect data. Codes and analyzes results and presents findings.
Stakeholder management
Identifies institutions, groups or individuals who have an interest in or are affected by some part of the program. Assesses interest of influential institutions, groups, and individuals. Mobilizes key stakeholders to help ensure the success of a program.
Strategic thinking
Synthesizes relevant information to determine what is needed to position the client/organization/issue appropriately in its market/environment, especially with regard to changing business, political, or cultural climates.
Develops public relations programs using research methodology or approaches that address the following components:
Research, Goals, Planning, Execution, Monitoring, and Evaluation.
Ethical behavior
Conducts professional activities in a principled manner and adheres to commonly accepted standards for professional behavior.
Recognizes and deals professionally with ethical and legal issues.
Knowledge of legal issues
Upholds applicable international, national, state, and local laws regarding libel, corporate governance, disclosure, copyright, trademarks, fair use, First Amendment issues, slander, privacy, regulations on commercial speech, corporate political expression, Foreign Agents Registration Act, lobbying, and grassroots lobbying. Uses laws regarding media access, due process, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), or Sarbanes-Oxley, Regulation Disclosure or Sunshine Act to meet the needs of clients.
Communication models
Is familiar with, understands the implications of and can apply to practice the theoretical and research-based foundation of public relations practice. Demonstrates familiarity with current theory and research as well as older established models that should guide such practical communication program decisions as selecting and prioritizing target audiences, developing messages, selecting spokespeople, establishing credibility, the foundations of trust, how issues are formed and developed, how opinion can be changed, the effectiveness of public information programs and so forth. Is familiar with fundamental social science research that affects communication practice such as the Hawthorne Effect, co-orientation, cognitive dissonance, diffusion theory and others.
Understands barriers to communication
Is familiar with, understands the implications of and can apply to practice the body of knowledge, drawn from public relations and social science disciplines that addresses the processes by which messages are interpreted by different audiences and how audiences are or are not moved to take action based upon those messages. Understands how factors such as semantics, cultural norms, timing, context, interference, competing messages and others may have an impact on the effectiveness of communication activities.
Business literacy
Understands and explains how employers/clients generate revenue and how their operations are conducted. Identifies relevant business drivers and how they impact the business.
Environmental scanning
Continuously analyzes the business environment that includes the client stakeholders and employer.
Industry knowledge
Understands and explains the nature of the employer or client industry or industries. Discusses current issues, opportunities, and threats to those industry or industries.
Knowledge of current organizational issues
Takes into consideration the client's or employer's current internal and external business drivers. Performs strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats (SWOT) analyses.
Knowledge of business technology and trends
Understands technology trends and how they apply to the business of the client field.
Understands all levels of management
Recognizes chain of command including senior leadership, middle management, direct line supervisor to the line worker and the distinctions. Analyzes stakeholder needs for purpose of crafting tailored programs. Knows how organizations are horizontally and vertically structured, (e.g., pyramid, flat), and how that affects organizational behavior. Comprehends how organizational structure affects organizational culture and programs.
Uses organization's resources
Identifies other divisions within a organization that need to be involved in any communication program (e.g., legal in the case of product liability).
Identifies and respects a wide range of differences among target audiences (publics). Crafts messages that will help achieve objectives within diverse audiences (publics). Researches the cultural preferences of target audiences (publics) as necessary.
Decision-making abilities
Makes sound, well-informed, and objective decisions in a timely manner. Assesses the impact and implications of these decisions.
Leadership skills
Influences others to achieve desired goals. Motivates others. Builds coalitions. Inspires and motivates. Communicates vision.
Looking beyond prejudices/mind-set
Considers and accommodates alternative views to obtain alternative views on an issue or crisis and factors this information into a communication strategy and into message construction.
Organizational skills
Manages the efficient sequencing and execution of work. Integrates multiple dimensions of a public relations campaign. Integrates internal and external components so that there is a synergy between the messages. Staggers a campaign to ensure timely rollout of different tasks for maximum effectiveness. Adjusts the planned rollout of events as necessary to account for success or failures of previous campaign activity. Identifies bottlenecks in a campaign and develops workarounds. Prioritizes tasks and selects those most appropriate.
Problem-solving skills
Distinguishes between relevant and irrelevant information to make logical judgments. Identifies the sources of problems, evaluates opportunities for resolution, and devises appropriate course of action based on situational context and factual information. Uses sound reasoning to arrive at conclusions. Finds alternative solutions to complex problems.
Sensitivity to cultural concerns
Conducts research to determine cultural concerns of affected audiences (publics). Understands how to develop strategies and messages that are relevant and meaningful to different groups.
Team building
Builds and maintains positive work environment. Recognizes and optimizes talents of others. Involves others in planning and decision-making. Celebrates success of individual contributors and the team as a whole.
Understands different phases of a crisis
Understands the roles and responsibilities of public relations at the pre-crisis, crisis, and post-crisis phases. Communicates the implications of each of these phases and understands the messaging needs of each.
Risk management capabilities
Identifies potential risks. Analyzes probability and potential impact of risk. Develops and deploys appropriate responses and controls for risk events.
Media relations
Understands the relationships between public relations professionals, journalists and media organizations. Builds effective relations with mass and specialized media based on mutual respect and trust.
News sensibility
Relates current events and trends to employers/clients and markets. Analyzes current events and trends for opportunities and threats.
Understands media
Considers strengths and weaknesses of various media (e.g., radio, print, web sites, blogs, television). Identifies and uses appropriate media for communicating with external audiences (all publics). Identifies influencers of different media. Selects appropriate media outlets for delivering message. Distinguishes lead times for different media. Identifies major changes resulting from the widespread use of new communications technology. Understands the roles of current and emerging technologies.
Understands distribution systems
Understands information distribution systems including: publicity, advertising, special events, face-to-face communication, third-party communication, promotion, and other distribution techniques between sender and receiver.
Information management
Identifies the types of information needed to be collected, evaluated, and retained. Knows how to obtain the information and store it, using information technology, so that it can be retrieved easily for future use.
Knowledge of distribution channels
Selects appropriate traditional and non-traditional media, themes, and strategies to disseminate message. Deploys public relations tools (media kits, news releases, media alerts, backgrounders, biographies, media contact lists, news conferences/briefings/tours) appropriately.
Technology literacy
Understands the power as well as the limitations of the Internet and other technology that can be applied to public relations, as both a tool for clients and a weapon against clients. Properly analyzes Internet usage data and its meaning for the public relations campaign. Uses current technology, as appropriate, to plan, manage, and evaluate public relations programs. Investigates emerging technologies as possible public relations tools.
Knowledge of the field of public relations
Identifies key figures in the history of public relations (George Creel, Edward Bernays, Arthur W. Page, etc.) and their contributions to the field. Identifies and describes major trends in the development of public relations as it is practiced today. Identifies key forces that influenced the field of public relations and describes their impact. Is familiar with the origins of earlier and out-moded stereotypes of the PR profession.

Defines and differentiates among related concepts, including publicity, advertising, marketing, press agentry, public affairs, issues management, lobbying, investor relations.
Uses consensus-building strategies and techniques to persuade key stakeholders to support a decision. Ensures that key stakeholders have an opportunity to express their opinions.
Consulting skills
Identifies a problem or opportunity, analyzes its causes and its implications and impacts on affected parties and other stakeholders. Manages conflict, generates alternatives, makes sound recommendations, and assists in implementing them.
Negotiating skills
Conducts discussions with affected parties and other stakeholders to find a mutually acceptable solution to problems.

Readiness Review / KSAs Tested

Creative conceptualization/creativity
Uses imagination to develop new insights into a public relations issue. Develops innovative solutions to the issue or problems posed. Devises new methods/processes or adapts existing ones when the standard methods and processes are not applicable.
Displays courage in suggesting new ideas and justifying them to clients/employers.
Interpersonal skills
Relates empathetically to other individuals in order to understand their concerns or needs. Influences another's decision or behavior. Displays confidence when interacting with others.
Management skills
Develops expertise in planning, organizing, budgeting, communicating, coordinating, scheduling, monitoring, and evaluating.
Client focus
Holds client service and interest as a top priority. Considers long-term client needs as well as short-term demands. Makes and delivers on commitments to clients.
Effectively and efficiently manages numerous projects and responsibilities simultaneously. Applies prioritization and tracks progress toward completion of tasks.
Responds to the changing business, social, and cultural landscape.
Teaches others
Identifies learning needs of staff. Coaches others on how to perform tasks. Serves as a mentor. Leads by example.
Time management
Prioritizes and sequences tasks to meet goals and deadlines.
Uses multiple delivery mechanisms
Uses advertising, direct mail, web and other delivery mechanisms and promotional tools effectively.
Control analysis
For selected media, determines who the owners are, their aims, their political allegiances, their influence on the content and editorial policies, and their legal constraints.
Communication skills/Speaking
Demonstrates logical thinking when describing client issues and framing approaches to solving public relations problems.
Communication skills/Interviewing
Asks relevant, insightful, and probing questions while interacting with employers/clients and target audiences (priority publics).
Communication skills/Writing and Editing
Communicates relevant information (including technical material) in a concise, organized fashion. Writes content that is factual and grammatically accurate, and at a reading level that is appropriate to the target audience. Authors persuasive communication material for public relations programs. Demonstrates the ability to examine and alter a document and correct for format, organization, completeness, factual accuracy, style, tone, and grammar.
Communication skills/Listening
Receives, interprets, verifies, and responds to verbal and non-verbal messages and other cues in the context of client, teammate, and audience concerns.
Presentation skills
Uses visual aids (charts, slides, transparencies, etc.) effectively. Maintains eye contact with audience. Uses appropriate language, gestures, tone of voice, and volume to convey information.

In this section:


Competencies / KSAs Tested

FAQs - Accreditation

The Examination for Accreditation

Preparation Resources


Readiness Review Instructions for Candidates

Readiness Review Candidate Questionnaire

Candidate's Process Chart for the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations

Demo of Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations


"Receiving my APR continues to open doors to new clients and career opportunities, and the moniker brings with it enhanced credibility and a competitive advantage.  Achieving this feat has also provided me a solid foundation to ensure the work I do is of the highest quality. What’s more, maintaining accreditation requires me to continually challenge myself to learn more. I'm a better and more successful PR practitioner as a result!"

- David B. Oates, APR
Stalwart Communications

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