Club & Greek

PRSSA Members Intern with Oxygen and MTV

Members of the University’s Shadow PR Firm and Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter interned with celebrity publicist Johnny Donovan at Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club” season fina¬le red carpet event and MTV’s “Real World: Ex-Plosion” season premiere party.

Donovan, an American Re¬ality TV Booking Agent and casting director, is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of J Donovan Productions, a media events and talent production company. With his expertise in event planning and celebrity publicity, PRSSA invited Donovan to speak to the University as a part of their Speaker Series on Wednesday, Dec. 4. After his presentation, Donovan extended the opportunity to PRSSA members to intern with him at various events, with the first being the “Bad Girls Club” season finale party.

Donovan said, “I was overwhelmed with emails [of people wanting to intern] following my discussion [at the Speaker Series]… But, I’m honored.” After reviewing the hundreds of résumés he received from students with inquiries of interning, Donovan chose five University PRSSA members to join him at the season finale red carpet event on Friday, Dec. 13 at G Lounge in New York with host Gina “GiGi” Lopez of “Bad Girls Club: Miami” season 11. These students included junior Kelly Hughes, senior Dallas Lewis-Bryant, junior Brianna McCabe, junior Allison Phillips and junior Maggie Zelinka.

Students met at Long Branch train station at 4:48 pm to take the train to the city to meet Donovan at the venue for 7 pm to prepare for the event in its entirety. Upon arrival at Penn Station, the students maneuvered their way through the streets of NYC until they reached G Lounge, the site of the red carpet event.

Students were divided into two jobs – press check-ins and celebrity arrivals.

Press check-ins consisted of students verifying the media that was to be in attendance, distributing their appropriate press credentials, and handing out celebrity one sheets, which are sheets that list all of the celebrities that will be in attendance so the press knows whom they are shooting.

Hughes, a public relations major and PRSSA Communication Director, was in charge of press check-ins. She said, “I have learned how a red carpet event works on a small scale. It is pretty cool to watch how it all plays out, start to finish, and what you need to do to handle the press.” Hughes added she also learned about media relations during this internship.

Students assigned to celebrity arrivals were responsible for coordinating the travel times of celebrities, checking them in, positioning these stars on the red carpet for publicity purposes, and escorting them to their appropriate seats in the roped off VIP section of the bar to enjoy their complimentary bottle ser¬vice.

Lewis-Bryant, a television/ radio student and Co-President of Fundraising and Events for PRSSA, was assigned the duty of celebrity arrivals. He said, “I realized that you have to take this job seriously because not only are you representing Johnny, but you are representing the venue as well as the invited celebrities.”

Celebrities that appeared throughout the course of the night included Christina Salgado of Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club” season 9, Love Majewski of VH1’s “Mobwives,” and recording artist Lori Michaels.

Donovan urged students to network and distribute business cards to contacts at the event. He advised his interns if “an opportunity comes knocking on your door to take it, because you never know what can happen.”

Once the “Bad Girls Club” event concluded, Donovan told the interns he was more than pleased with their combined efforts and invited those that were interested to join him at his next event on Tuesday, Jan. 14 from 8 – 11 pm at Bottomz Up Bar and Grill with host Jay Gotti of “Real World: Ex-Plosion.”

Following the “Bad Girls Club” event, Hughes, Lewis- Bryant and McCabe remained as part of Donovan’s staff for the “Real World: Ex-Plosion” event.

According to the confirmed guest sheets provided by Donovan, the “Real World: Ex-Plo¬sion” event had over 200 people in attendance, which was almost triple that of the “Bad Girls Club” event. Due to the increase in size, Donovan accepted an additional four interns (junior Erica Bonavitacola, senior Jessica Rinaldi, junior Taylor Vullo and senior Sarah Yung), for a total of seven University PRSSA members, to help organize and run the event.

Students were again divided into working either press check-ins or celebrity arrivals with the exception of Lewis-Bryant and Bonavitacola being given more responsibility than the rest. The pair received their own com¬pany email with J Donovan Productions and were responsible for contacting publicists and celebrity managers in order to in¬vite the celebrities to the event.

Celebrities that were present on the red carpet were Farrah Abraham of MTV’s “Teen Mom,” Chris Scali of “MTV’s Are You the One?,” and “GiGi” who made a return from “Bad Girls Club: Miami.”

Kristi Silver, Co-President of PRSSA, said, “I think it is awesome that a speaker we brought in is giving opportunities to our members.”

Silver said the goal of the PRSSA Speaker Series is to bring in professionals who are actively working in a specific field related to public relations to discuss what they do and the steps they took to get there, as well as to allow students a chance to network and gain internships.

Mary Harris, co-advisor of PRSSA and specialist professor, said, “Our chapter has experienced outstanding opportunities to network with industry professionals. We sincerely appreciate the experiential education opportunities that Mr. Donovan has offered to our PRSSA students.”

According to Donovan, one of his next major events is Abraham’s birthday and book signing event which is in the process of being developed. Because she is “major in the public eye right now,” he said, it is going to take a lot of preparation and organization and therefore is interested in accepting more applications from prospective University interns.

Lewis-Bryant, now an employee of J Donovan Productions, said Donovan’s events acted as an extension of what he has been studying in the classroom. “I feel amazing to be given the opportunity alongside my fellow classmates [to work with Donovan] because it helps build up our résumé while we are still in school and allows us to market ourselves when we graduate and apply for jobs,” he said. “Donovan is someone that you definitely want to connect with because he knows a lot of people within the entertainment field, and I am so thankful for everything he has offered us students.”

PHOTO TAKEN by Brianna McCabe