Accreditation in Public Relations

That’s Life: Overcoming Multiple Challenges to Achieve Accreditation in Public Relations

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April is Accreditation Month at PRSA. It’s a time to learn about how becoming Accredited in Public Relations can help advance your career. Look for posts on the PRsay and each month in The Pinnacle, PRSA’s monthly newsletter offering insights on Accreditation. Learn more about earning your APR by visiting

There are countless movies where the main characters overcome obstacles that life throws their way while trying to achieve a goal they had set for themselves. I just watched one the other night.

However, it doesn’t just happen on the big screen. It happens in everyday life. Life is going to throw you curves. But that does not mean you will strike out. You need to persevere. Trust me. I know firsthand.

For several years, I wanted to pursue my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). It was a personal goal that would benefit me, my company and the PR profession. But it never seemed like the right time to start the process.

In 2022, I had a nearly perfect project to present for Accreditation — an expanded version of the philanthropic program I had been leading for State Farm for the previous six years in celebration of the company’s 100th anniversary.

Instead of awarding $1 million in grants to 40 nonprofits (which we did annually) to mark the 100th, we would award 100 grants for a total of $2.5 million.

The 2022 program would take much more research, planning, implementation and evaluation (RPIE).

Little did I know that, when I signed up to pursue the APR, I would face multiple surgeries in the months ahead, and that a close family member, for whom I am a caregiver, would require a couple of hospital stays. Add that to the day-to-day management of the grant program at work, and my plate was full. I didn’t see how I could do the prep it takes to become Accredited with everything else life had thrown my way.

This past September, once the program at work had concluded and things had settled down, I started dedicating time in the evenings to completing the APR questionnaire and putting together the materials needed for the panel presentation.

In early November, I advanced through the panel presentation to the exam, which I decided to take right before the holidays in late December. That gave me six weeks to study, and I poured through the study materials.

In the end, I passed the examination and received my Accreditation!

So, I completed a process that usually takes a year in three months. It was not my plan, but life’s plan.

I would not have been able to attain my APR without the incredible support of my PRSA mentors, the PRSA staff and my leadership in the public affairs department at State Farm. I did not feel pressure but only encouragement every step of the way.

Now, I plan to share my learnings with my peers, improve my work product and mentor others to help them earn their APRs.

And if life gets in their way, then I can assist with that too!

Michael Hidalgo Grimes, APR, has 16 years of high-level experience in all aspects of public relations for a Fortune 50 company. He is also a former award-winning television journalist with eight years of experience at various networks.

About the author

Michael Hidalgo Grimes, APR

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