April 17, 2024

Nealy Gihan, APR: What Earning my APR Has Meant to Me

Our recently appointed director of public relations and influencer marketing, Nealy Gihan, APR, has immense experience in the world of PR and earned her APR within the past year.

Below, Nealy details her experience in the world of public relations and the value earning her APR has added to her career.

As we enter April, Accreditation Month for the Public Relations Society of America, I reflect on what earning my accreditation in public relations (APR) has meant. As a Black woman in the public relations field, it has meant validation.

According to a 2022 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the public relations industry is dominated, 81.4%, by white professionals. And while women make up most of the profession, very few hold executive positions. Those numbers decrease even more for women of color. According to a 2017 AdAge article, Black women are dramatically underrepresented in executive public relations positions. Out of 8,734 executives, only 93 were Black women.

Personally, I have honed my skills in the industry for well over a decade yet have watched colleagues with far less experience be promoted and paid far more. Kayla Lawrence, a Black PR professional said it best when interviewed by Shelby Casimir in a blog post I read: “The marketing and communications industry has historically possessed racial and gender biases that oftentimes underestimate the talent that’s possessed by women of color, and more specifically Black women.”

I earned my APR in hopes that adding the letters after my name would validate what my years of knowledge and hard work have not always illustrated to hiring managers and colleagues. Earning my APR unarguably demonstrates my high level of professional proficiency. Earning my APR also has signified my commitment to excellence and my passion for this dynamic and ever-evolving field. The accreditation process equipped me with invaluable knowledge, skills and insights that have enhanced my ability to navigate the complexities of modern communication effectively.

And since earning my APR, doors have begun to open to new opportunities and an expanded professional network. I have recently been promoted within my agency and have been able to collaborate with industry leaders, exchange ideas and stay updated on the latest trends and best practices.

Earning my accreditation is not just a symbol of my expertise; it's a testament to my commitment to excellence and my ongoing journey to make a meaningful impact in the world of PR, especially for women of color.

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