In Pursuit of My APR: Clay Adams, ABC, APR


Accreditation is a voluntary certification program for public relations professionals that is administered by the Canadian Public Relations Society and identifies practitioners who have depth of experience and competence in the professional practice of public relations. It involves a rigorous evaluation of the skills and competencies needed to practice public relations at a senior executive level and establishes standards for professional practice. 

In January, Clay Adams, ABC, APR, from CPRS Vancouver also VP of Communications & Public Affairs for Vancouver Coastal Health officially received his well-deserved accreditation. We had the opportunity to hear about his experience and insight, so that others can learn what it takes to become Accredited in Public Relations.

1) Tell us a little bit about your professional background? 

I was a journalist and publicist back in my native Australia, including a role as National Head of TV Publicity for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Since moving to Canada in 1990, my focus has been on health care communications with stints as a Senior Public Affairs Officer with Alberta Health, Director of Communications for East Central Health in Alberta, and Director of Communications for the North Shore Health Region in Vancouver – a role that morphed into the Director of Issues Management for Vancouver Coastal Health when established in 2001. I’ve been the VP of Communications & Public Affairs for VCH for almost a decade which sounds like a really long time. Come to think of it, I suppose it is.

2) Why did you decide to pursue your APR?

While education and expertise can shape one’s one career path, professional accreditation can validate it. Being an APR suggests my industry colleagues and peers regard me as someone who has achieved a level of knowledge, success and credibility within the profession. It is also cool to have APR next to my name on my business card. Now that I think of it, does anyone use business cards anymore? Darn.

3) What was the preparation process?

If you ask my examiners, not as I good as it should have been! The program provides an extensive list of text and online resources to help prepare for the exam process and the local Accreditation Director, Ange Frymire Fleming, is an excellent resource to help in preparation.

Lorianne Weston, Director of Accreditation and Education for CPRS, was a tremendous asset with regular communication and by organizing the logistics of my experience. As already mentioned, Ange Frymire Fleming, was supportive and offered help along the way.

4) What was the hardest part out of the entire experience?

Recognizing that despite all my years of experience, just how little I still know!

5) How did it benefit your professional growth?

By making me realize just how much more there is to learn and to never assume what you are doing is the “right’ way of doing it. The process reminds you of the science behind our profession, while the designation is a reassurance that you have been doing at least something right during your professional journey.  

6) What is a word of advice for others who are also pursuing their APR? 

Your experience and knowledge is crucial to earning your APR but don’t assume it will be easy. I should have been more diligent in my preparation and made more time to review materials and get my head around the academic elements that shape our profession. I would also encourage candidates to turn to their fellow CPRS members and APRs for support and guidance along the way. Mentoring is an essential element of personal and professional growth, and no matter how experienced you are there are always others you can learn from.

About the Author

Lesley is the editor of the CPRS Vancouver newsletter, Essentials, that is published bi-weekly. She is also a digital content and public relations practitioner with a passion for food and wine.