Intern Talk: Entertainment Industry (Part One)

The entertainment industry is often one of the most sought-after for students and young professionals, motivated to be on the screen or behind the scenes. North America holds many of the largest media and entertainment markets, including sectors such as film, television, music and live events. But as a public relations student, where do you fit in? I reached out to six PRSSA members to ask about their experience in the field, and how their public relations knowledge and experience has helped them along their journey. 

In this first part of this article series, the interviewees are introduced and discuss how their PRSSA experience helped them in their roles. In part two, the members share how their experiences in their internships, jobs and PRSSA helped them plan their careers, and give advice to students looking to go into the entertainment industry. 

Maura Consedine 

Role(s): Press assistant at Vivacity Media Group in New York City, corporate communications assistant at Creative Artist’s Agency (CAA) in Los Angeles. 

Education: 2023 Graduate of St. John’s University with B.S. in public relations and hospitality management.

PRSSA Background: Chapter president, vice president of Chapter development & alumni relations.

About her role at Vivacity Media Group, a boutique PR agency that specializes in theater and live entertainment: 

“Every day in this role is different and pretty unpredictable, especially right now because we have three shows opening in one week! I consistently start each day by helping my co-worker track and clip client coverage, whether broadcast, print or online.

Another one of my main responsibilities in this role is managing RSVPs for press performances or opening nights, which I’ve been doing a lot recently. Sometimes I get to write press materials like pitches, press releases, cast/crew memos or media alerts. Research and database management are also pretty big parts of my role. 

One of my favorite parts of the job at Vivacity are all of the in-person events, whether it’s assisting at red carpets and press junkets or supervising interviews, production photos or b-roll shoots. This week I had the opportunity to accompany a photographer from the New York Times to Once Upon a One More Time, and just got to sit and enjoy the show while she captured images for the piece.”

Matthew Shieh

Role(s): Publicity coordinator at HBO and Max with past experience at WarnerBros, Discover and NBCUniversal.

Education: 2023 Graduate of Hofstra University with a double major in public relations and drama.

PRSSA Background: Two-term director of social media.

About his role at HBO and Max:

“I support a variety of show teams for both HBO and Max original programming. As most PR people say, no two days are the same and that couldn’t be closer to the truth. However, some responsibilities include drafting press releases, planning press junkets, coordinating interviews and appearances and tracking coverage and publicity assets including photos and clips. I love getting to work with so many different people and being in the center of it all, from internal teams to personal reps, talent and journalists.

You never know what the day will bring and what wild things might happen. It keeps me on my toes and makes work feel exciting and not like a job. I’ve gotten to do things I never would have dreamed of, including walking red carpets, attending industry events and working with incredible talent. If you would’ve told me as a kid some of the things I’ve been lucky enough to do, I wouldn’t have believed you. Also, the people! I cannot emphasize how important team culture is and how I have truly learned and grown from working alongside some of the smartest, kindest, and best people in the business. You are nothing without your team.”

Adrian Finer

Role(s): Communications intern at Paramount/MTV with past experience at Atlantic Records, Variety, and Elektra Music Group.

Education: Incoming senior at the University of Southern California with a public relations major and music industry minor.

PRSSA Background: Incoming president, vice president, co-director of Outreach.

About his role at Paramount/MTV and the industry:

“I just started [in the industry] so there’s still a lot to be uncovered but I’ve learned that every day is different. Emmy awards voting season just started so the communications team is doing a lot of “For Your Consideration” campaigning, from holding events to pitching trade outlets that reach TV Academy voters. I help make sure the team has everything they need to secure key media placements including creating and maintaining press lists, tracking press coverage of MTV’s show catalog and helping out events. 

I never get bored. It’s easy to love what you do when the client you’re doing work for is an artist you actually listen to or an actor on a show you love. Entertainment is also one of the only industries where virtually every person you come across is there because they’re just as passionate about it as you are.”

Khalia Horton

Role(s): Marketing intern for Def Jam at Universal Music Group with past experience at Crypto Money Records, Finessed Media Inc., and her campus radio station.

Education: Incoming Senior at Temple University majoring in public relations/image management with a minor in legal studies.

PRSSA Background: Incoming vice president, director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

About her role at Def Jam and the industry:

“I do lots of running around to help plan events, handle artist requests, update sheets and hear tons of music and plan marketing strategies around it. 

I have always been a music lover and what I enjoy most is getting to listen to unreleased music and the story behind each song the artist tells. As well as creating visuals/trends from the ground up to promote their work.”

Daphne Zhu

Role(s): Recent awards and events intern at HBO and HBO Max with previous experience in agencies across entertainment, fashion and publishing.

Education: 2023 Graduate of the University of Southern California with a public relations major and applied data analytics minor.

PRSSA Background: President.

About her role at HBO and HBO Max and the industry:

“I enjoyed being a part of an industry that defines culture and working for a company that I looked up to as a child. Warner Bros has played a significant role in iconic films like Crazy Rich Asians, The Blind Side and Inception, all of which heavily resonated with me and influenced my upbringing. I always had an interest in the behind-the-scenes/planning process of the industry as opposed to being under the spotlight.” 

She also shared that some of the responsibilities she took on included managing an internal FYC calendar, assisting with the planning of event communication materials, coordinating attendance for editors, helping organize talent appearances and much more related to supporting the team for the show-related events and the Emmy Awards. 

PRSSA Skills in Action

These PRSSA members were able to get their foot in the door in this competitive field, and they credit PRSSA with helping them develop skills that helped them earn their roles and perform well in them. With their past experiences as leaders within the organization, I asked how they felt their academic and leadership backgrounds in PRSSA and public relations benefited them in their roles and careers. 

Maura shared that as Chapter president, she prioritized programming based on professional development, which she feels helped her become more confident while searching for opportunities. “Knowing how to best represent yourself in an interview, fine-tune your LinkedIn to showcase your experiences, or possess specific hard skills are all things that I believe made me a stronger candidate, and made me more confident when seeking out opportunities,” she said. 

As Adrian enters his third year as a leader at his Chapter, he echoes Maura’s statement: “My time on the USC PRSSA board has been the most pivotal experience for my professional development on campus, allowing me to meet and work with fellow PR students as well as alumni who are where I want to be in five, 10 or 20 years.”

PRSSA can allow you to gain valuable skills that may be difficult to obtain from only your academic training. Matthew and Daphne both shared that their experience as leaders in the organization allowed them to take ownership of projects and tasks, which helped them develop confidence that they felt was extremely beneficial to their internships and career.

Remember to look out for part two of this article coming out tomorrow. If you are interested in the entertainment industry or were inspired by this article today, feel free to connect with the participants on LinkedIn. Your network truly is one of your greatest assets. Join PRSSA’s LinkedIn group and check out Champions for PRSSA to connect with more students, professionals and possible mentors. 

The PRSSA Internship Center shares many internships in the entertainment industry and beyond, including some listed exclusively for PRSSA students. Be sure to take advantage of this platform as many internships are now open for applications. 

If you’d like to be featured in a future article, make sure to follow Vice President of Career Services Melina O’Neal on LinkedIn to be notified when she is looking for PRSSA members to interview about their experience in various industries. Thanks for reading.

Melina O’Neal currently serves as the vice president of career services for PRSSA National. She is a fourth-year student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania pursuing her master’s degree in communication studies after graduating in 2023 with her bachelor’s degree in media & culture. Previously, she has served as a District Ambassador and National Publications Committee member for PRSSA National alongside her responsibilities as vice president and treasurer for her collegiate Chapter. You can connect with Melina via LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.

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