Joe Bonilla, B.A.’11

Relentlessly Ambitious

By Carol Olechowski

Joe Bonilla, B.A.’11

Joe Bonilla, center, poses with his Knickerbocker Film Festival co-founders, Rich Fazio, left, and Joe Alindato.

Four months after graduating from the University at Albany with a degree in public administration and policy, Joe Bonilla was not only employed. He was self-employed.

Bonilla, with friend and fellow alumnus Rich Fazio, founded Relentless Awareness, a public-relations and advertising firm, in January 2012. As its name suggests, Relentless Awareness provides “non-stop outreach through public relations and digital outreach solutions to a variety of clients,” noted Bonilla, 28. “We rely on aggressive tactics for getting the word out about their products, services, establishments or candidacies.” Clients include Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan; Bow Tie Cinemas; the Washington Avenue Armory; Mingle Restaurants; Nine Pin Cider; and the Albany Distilling Company.

UAlbany prepared Bonilla well for the venture. His experiences working with Albany Student Television (ATV) and serving as Student Association programming director, “tied in with such key classes as Public Relations Writing with Mark Marchand and Bureaucratic Politics with Michael Christakis, were critical in developing the necessary skills for public relations and business,” he recalled. “I’ll add that I practically grew up on campus: My mother, Adrienne Bonilla, works for the University as assistant vice president for Research.”

“A class called Sociology of Media opened my mind to what the everyday American was being shown in the newspapers, on television and on the radio,” said Fazio, 31. “I felt a need to tell a different side of what the mainstream media were showing and was able to, years later, with Joe’s help. 
“Joe and I began working on projects that Capital Region residents would enjoy; we started the Knickerbocker Film Festival and other events, which eventually allowed us to form Relentless Awareness. I had the freedom to move anywhere to conduct business, so I decided to move to South Carolina.”  
Thus far, Myrtle Beach and Greenville, S.C., “are our main focus in the Southeast,” added Fazio, who majored in sociology and minored in English at UAlbany. “We have plans to expand to Atlanta; Charlotte and Asheville, N.C.; and Florida.” 

Most Relentless Awareness interns, and some employees, “also come from the University,” said Bonilla. “It’s an incredibly unifying factor to have had such shared college experiences within the same office, and even with our clients. A number of them are also UAlbany alums.”