Saturday evening, Oct. 10, was the annual fundraising gala for Miami Children’s Health Foundation (MCHF) created to celebrate children, otherwise known as “diamonds.” Many people attended the ball to demonstrate their support of MCHF’s efforts, including celebrities like Armando Christian Pérez, the rapper known as Pitbull, and Cynthia Olavarria, at the JW Marriott Marquis in Downtown Miami for the 2015 MCHF Diamond Ball.

The University of Miami’s School of Communication Public Relations Experience Program (PREP) worked the event giving communication students the opportunity to put their learning into action during “live” event experience. The major focus for the students on this event was media relations, red carpet management, and social media.

“PREP offers an opportunity for us to guide young minds in a social media space,” said Shawn Smith, digital media director for AB&A Advertising, partnering with MCHF to provide strategic social media support. “Fresh new minds look at and work with social media differently which presents new opportunities and differing viewpoints on social efficiency,” he explains when discussing how working with PREP students is beneficial for him.

The PREP students helped with social media, the management of photographers and videographers on the red carpet and throughout the event, assisted in garnering interviews, and much more. Although always a “welcomed challenge” to have, the gala organizers had to adjust to a larger number of media in attendance than expected, which offered the PREP students a live “lab” on how to be flexible and strategic when more media persons attended the event than anticipated.

“The night of the event the PREP students were so helpful with media persons and any other problems that came up,” explained Lisbet Fernandez-Vina, MCHF director of foundation external affairs. “Knowing that the PREP students are coming to help is a big relief from the beginning because we can count on them to carry out any task thrown at them.”

The PREP students have worked with the Diamond Ball for several years and will continue to provide public relations support for the event through the participation in this unique, on site, experiential learning course. PREP is back to work for MCHF on Oct. 19 as the students assist with the hospital’s annual charity golf outing.