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ֱ’s Brown, Matthews join less than 2% of public relations professionals to earn elite APR status

Contact: Sarah Nicholas and Harriet Laird

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State assistant dean and public affairs staff member are now among a select, international group of public relations practitioners earning this profession’s most respected designation.

Portrait of Karyn Brown
Karyn Brown (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

The College of Arts and Sciences’ Karyn Brown, assistant dean for communications and media, and Office of Public Affairs’ Allison Matthews, news editor, have gained the Accredited in Public Relations, or APR, credential which less than 2% of public relations practitioners earn worldwide. They are among just 4,500 active international APR experts and only a few current and former ֱ employees with the designation.

Portrait of Allison Matthews
Allison Matthews (Photo by Megan Bean)

Prior to her 2023 appointment as an ֱ assistant dean, Brown served as arts and sciences' communication director and has been a Department of Communication instructor for more than three decades. She said securing APR certification was motivated by her commitment to professionalism and ethical standards that showcase and distinguish her as a leader and mentor in the dynamic field of communications.

 “Earning the APR has opened many doors professionally to connect with PR practitioners nationwide, fostering a rich network for collaboration and guidance about current public relations issues,” she said.

As public affairs news editor for more than 13 years, Matthews oversees the dissemination of university information to the media, supervises two multimedia communication specialists, and collaborates with many communicators across campus. She said as a PR practitioner the APR emphasizes high standards of ethics and professionalism for working to best serve institutions and stakeholders.

“Attaining the APR has been a rewarding professional development process that has helped me learn much more about advanced public relations and communication—from theoretical concepts and historical case studies to best practices of daily application in my career at ֱ,” she said.

The APR examination measures knowledge, skills and abilities in 60 areas of public relations practice, with the complete APR program overseen by the Universal Accreditation Board, established in 1998.

An ֱ Grisham Master Teacher, Brown holds a master’s degree from Western Illinois University and bachelor’s from Illinois’ Augustana College. She also holds certification in nonprofit management from Duke University and is the recipient of several university and professional honors. Matthews earned a master’s degree from the University of Mississippi and her bachelor’s from ֱ in Starkville, where she grew up. Over her career, she has amassed many awards from the professional organizations with which she is active.

Both Brown and Matthews are members of the Southern Public Relations Federation, Public Relations Association of Mississippi and its local Starkville/ֱ Chapter. Brown also holds membership in the Public Relations Society of America, and Matthews, the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi.

For more details about ֱ’s College of Arts and Sciences, visit .

The university’s Office of Public Affairs is online at .

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