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Beneath a Scarlet Sky tells the tale of Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Lella, one of Italy’s forgotten WW2 heroes. Despite being unknown, he played such a pivotal role in driving the Germans from Italy and at such a personal cost, forever altering him. Mark Sullivan’s book allows Lella to step out of the shadows, telling his story and getting the recognition that he deserves.

This story focuses on the forgotten front that is Italy between June 1943 and May 1945. Despite being described as a work of historical fiction, the story behind the book is real. With so little available on WW2 Italy, Sullivan published it as what he describes as ‘a novel of biographical and historical fiction’ weaving together historical facts with an emotionally charged story of a 17-year-old caught up in a brutal war and along the way finds a love that stayed with him throughout his life. A tale kept in the shadows for the tragic reason that despite the good he did, Lella describes himself as a coward, not thinking himself worthy of the title hero.

The story starts with Lella at 17, living in Milan, not yet touched by the brutal reality of WW2 until he and his brother got caught in the bombing of the movie theatre. Making it back home relatively safely but changed, for the next couple of months Allied planes came for Milan, Lella stayed in Milan with his father until a bomb destroyed his home and his father sent him to Casa Alpina, a refuge in the Alps ran by Father Re.


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Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Lella papers aged 17

It is at Casa Alpina a hero is born, not content to be left on the sidelines Lella joins the underground railroad of the Catholic Church and the Italian resistance to save the lives of many Jews. Making a trek through the Italian Alps guiding Jews to the safety of the Switzerland border, first alone then he trains up other boys including his younger brother, Mimo. Risking his life and making many daring journeys until just before his 18th birthday he is summoned back to Milan by his parents. Fearing for his life, they convince him to enlist in German Army to avoid being conscripted and sent to the Russian frontlines; he reluctantly joins the Organisational Todt (OT).

“Nothing in life worth doing is easy,”

Not long after his enlistment he is injured and sent home. His story takes another turn here. We see him risking more and in a different way. Opportunity strikes when one of Hilter’s top men, General Hans Leyers, recruits him as his driver, eager to have a role in bringing down the Nazis’ he becomes a spy, operating under the codename ‘the observer’. Frequently risking his life to gather information to aid the end of the war, witnessing many atrocities, Lella makes many a daring feat to help those who are in need. He works his way into becoming Leyers’ right-hand man, translating information and bearing witness to meetings of influential figures within Italy at the time, such as Mussolini.

Throughout his time as a spy, the circle of people who know about his undercover status is small, until he reunites with Anna, who he met, briefly, at the start of the book but whose memory stays with him, giving him courage. With Anna, he has moments where he is just a young man falling in love for the first time. For someone who risks so much not just his life but his relationships with family and friends, he experiences so much pain and heartbreak. Throughout his risky mission, he keeps what Father Re told him close ‘Have faith in God’s plan for you.’


“Do what I sometimes do when I get scared: imagine you’re someone else, someone who’s far braver and smarter.”

The ending of Beneath a Scarlet Sky is bittersweet and the life led by Pino Lella during those last two years of the war is remarkable, he suffered and witnessed more than most in those short years than most do their entire life. The story here is truly inspiring, courageous yet heartbreaking story and it begs the question how many more people out there are like Pino Lella? WW2 heroes with untold stories, that possibly will remain untold.

Pictured: Mark Sullivan and Pino Lella with a copy of Beneath a Scarlet Sky.

Pino Lella currently lives in Lesa, Italy.

The rights to Beneath a Scarlet Sky has been acquired by Pascal Pictures and is soon to become a major motion picture with Tom Holland leading as Pino Lella. 

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Tom Holland has been cast as Pino Lella.

Celine Ward is a 3rd year Communication Management with Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on on LinkedIn: and found on twitter @celinemward



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Women have been crying out for better representation in TV and films for years, with Wonder Woman and Gal Gadot we got that. What we have is a robust and independent hero whose physical strength is just as necessary as her compassionate and caring nature. Both are currently taking Hollywood by storm; this leading actress though is a badass on-screen and off-screen. From soldier to Hollywood, Gadot has gone far. Hollywood just can’t get enough of this leading lady.

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With the success that both Wonder Woman and Gadot has found comes with an important message for all, that can be transferred in everyday life and within PR.

“I wanted to show that women are empowered and strong, and don’t have to be saved by some male hero, but they can take care of themselves using their intelligence and their power.” – Gal Gadot

Firstly, take risks. In PR, taking risks is necessary sometimes. If we can’t answer the question will this work or not, at times, we’re going to need to take a chance and wait for the fallout. Similar to Wonder Woman, this entire project was a risk, DC movies that came before weren’t doing well in comparison to Marvel. Not only was making the film taking a chance but having Patty Jenkins was as director was another risk. It more than paid off with the movie breaking the record for the most successful live-action film directed by a woman. So take more risks.

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Patty Jenkins ‘Wonder Woman’ director

Another lesson is to find your passion. Not only being passionate about PR but finding what makes you passionate within the area will make your job so much better. Loving what you do is always said to be essential to any successful career. Gal Gadot is an example of this, having been a soldier, model, business owner to Hollywood actress.

A message we can take from Gadot’s success, having both families and successful careers are possible. With a workload that comes with juggling successful movies, promoting them and juggling family life, she shows it’s possible. She teaches women in PR; we can have it all too. This an important message being sent to young girls and women everywhere, you don’t have to choose one or the other.

Wonder Woman and Gadot show how successful PR can be. With this success comes power. Gadot, whether she wanted it or not has power. Most recently she is credited with taking a high profiled stand against sexual harassment in Hollywood by apparently requesting the removal of Brett Ratner from Wonder Woman sequel, refusing to reprise her role as Wonder Woman if it didn’t happen. True or not, this is an inspiring message to millions of women in the world, this behaviour is not acceptable no matter who you are or the money you have. This act is not something women have to accept or tolerate. True or not, this shows the Gadot’s name has power, and with it, the ability to make compelling statements. She has denied that his removal happened in this way but is still in hailed a hero, a real-life Wonder Woman and an embodiment of women’s empowerment.

This story circulating Gadot has only increased her PR image, and as result Wonder Woman. The claim is that she refused to sign on for Wonder Woman 2 until Warner Bros. removed Brett Ratner from the movie. As it stands Warner Bros. can’t afford to lose Gadot and keeping Ratner would send a negative message, undoing the powerful message sent out with the first film.  To have a man accused of sexual harassment and assault financing a film about female empowerment, would be a PR disaster. With this claim, Gadot’s influence has considerably increased.

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 “It was the first time for me — as a woman, a girl, a female — that I saw an image of strong women that are beautiful and confident and can take care of themselves,” – Gal Gadot speaking of seeing Wonder Woman fight scenes. 

With Gadot and Wonder Woman becoming more intertwined in the future, the pressure will mount to maintain the current image projected and revered by the public. Since the film’s release, Gadot’s reach has significantly increased, with 13.9 million followers on Instagram and with 1.52 million on Twitter.

Celine Ward is a 3rd year Communication Management with Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on on LinkedIn: and found on twitter @celinemward



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Supernatural is a hugely successful TV, in its 13th season with a fandom that refers to itself as the SPN Family, this ‘family’ has created a unique support system for those suffering mental health issues. Jared Padalecki started a movement in 2015 called Always Keep Fighting, a t-shirt campaign that became a support network for fans. It is empowering for fans to hear their role models speak up about issues like this, admitting they struggle with this or just telling them that they aren’t alone. The way Supernatural actors Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins has used their power and influence to create something that is inherently bigger than themselves is inspiring.

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Jensen & Misha’s ‘You Are Not Alone’ campaign. In support of SPN Family Crisis Support System.

There is a lot to consider before launching any campaign and different things that need to be taken into consideration. The success of Jared’s PR campaign is inspiring. What started as a t-shirt campaign by one actor has led to the collaboration between three actors as Jared and his co-stars Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins set up their support platform for those suffering mental health issues, the Crisis Support Network.

“Why not try and harness this amazing power that the fans are accumulating and try to use it in a way that Misha has done with Random Acts?” – Jensen Ackles on creating the Crisis Support Network.

The massive support from their Supernatural fandom played a massive part in success of their various campaigns but so did their PR campaign. The success of any PR campaign lies in the planning and execution. Simple steps to successfully carry out a PR campaign:

1. Set out clear goals for what you want to achieve.
Taking the ‘Always Keep Fighting’ campaign, there are three clear goals to this. One, raise money for charities such as To Write Love On Her Arms, The Wounded Warrior Project and A.I.R. Attitudes In Reverse – Student Suicide Prevention – Mental Health. Two, to raise awareness of mental health issues that affect people such as depression, addiction, mental illness and suicidal thoughts. Lastly, the aim was to encourage people to speak out about their struggles.

2. Make a detailed and precise plan on how you want to achieve it.
How will you achieve your goal? The exact method of attaining the targets for ‘Always Keep Fighting’ is unclear. We know Jared took to social media to share with fans. Actors such as Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and Stephen Amell, promoted the campaign on their sites.

3. Do intensive research on the aim of your campaign.
You need to know what your campaigning for to achieve your goals. Jared knew what he was talking about in his campaign as he suffers from anxiety and depression. Fans knew that this campaign was personal and something he felt passionate about advocating.

4. Monitor and tweak your campaign when necessary.
Allow for failure and have measures in place to ensure the success of the campaign. The ‘Always Keep Fighting’ campaign has been tweaked and relaunched over the years, mostly to include Jensen Ackles’ involvement

5. Choose your weapon. 
What will you use to promote your campaign? Jared used t-shirts, hoodies, hats and bags with 100% proceeds going to charity.

6. Choose a channel for your campaign.
Social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr were used to promote this campaign.

These co-stars have all spoken up about their experiences with mental health issues and its impact. Jared has spoken out on his struggle with depression and anxiety, Misha has talked about his experience of bullying, its impact and how he self-harmed in the past. Jensen also speaks about how he struggled with being away from his family, how particular storylines affect him and the impact watching Jared’s struggle had on him and how losing friends to suicide affected him.

“People who are dealing with depression and addiction or suicidal thoughts or mental illness…they’re strong. You’re strong because you’ve been in this fight and you wake up thinking you’re going to beat it again today.” Jared Padalecki 

The number of fan testimonies of how these actors and their show have saved or helped them in some way is remarkable. Jared, Jensen and Misha have proven themselves to be successful mental health advocaters on their use of social media; it is unusual to see social media being used to establish an incredible online support network of this magnitude for those suffering from mental health issues.

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The reminder that your favourite actors are human too, that you can have money, success and fame yet still struggle with your mental health creates a sense of solidarity between the celebrities and fans. The cast of Supernatural has managed to perfect this, and use it as a way to promote awareness.

Remember #AlwaysKeepFighting! 

Celine Ward is a 3rd year Communication Management with Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on on LinkedIn: and found on twitter @celinemward