Seemingly Useless Publicity

Yesterday, I was reading the New York Times website when I ran across this article on the front page about how the current economy is making a great renters' market. It was an interesting read and it's sort of reassuring for me to see what it's going be like out there when I finally leave my parents' (clearly not for New York though with that cost of living), but what really sort of got to me was the mention of Clark Hassler.

Hassler isn't a celebrity. I mean, not really. He may be known in his field (I'm not sure since it's not really my field, I hardly put any time into the research that is life experience). He may be a celebrity in skateboarding like Tatsuya Ishida is a celebrity in his field. Not huge, but he could be big enough. But is this publicity really doing anything for him or is this some weird thing on the side that just comes up?

Was this piece in times about renting apartments at a cheaper upgrade moving for Hassler's career or is it more like the American perception of Nicolas Cage's pachinko commercials?

When is publicity helpful and when is it just useless words scrawled on a page? Sure, because I have the slightest passing interest in skateboarding, I did a Google search of the guy and found he make a damn shoe (which quite frankly steals too much of its design elements from Adidas and if you're going to try to look like an Adidas Original, you might as well just buy some Adidas).

Yes, I learned he skates for enjoi, but I'm not important (not yet, anyway) and I am most certainly not in any field that's advantageous for him. I'm pretty sure most people reading the Sunday Real Estate section of the Times aren't really thinking much about him, either. Hassler's name isn't likely to come up next to Shaun White, Bucky Lasek, or Bob Burnquist in a sentence (other than this one, anyway) because his girlfriend just got this sweet one bedroom. Red Bull isn't likely to endorse him before Sal Masekela cheers his name before this year's X-Games because journalism student Erika Allen can pony up fifteen extra dollars a month for all that extra space in the East Village.

Or maybe I could be wrong and just don't get how a name, seemingly random in passing, can still connect you to where you need to go. But if this is the case, is there really such a thing as bad publicity if all you really need is name recognition? Are people's minds so automatically suggestive that we just need to hear things and remember then, no matter their relevance? In this age of instant information, was I the only person who felt compelled to Google "Clark Hassler?" Will I be seeing him this summer at 1 in the morning on USA doing kick flips in Salt Lake City on the Dew Tour just because some random person wanted to check and see if Charlie Rangel has learned how not to take advantage of rent control yet?

Apparently, I have a lot to learn about PR because this may have been the gutsiest call a publicist has ever made and that I can in no way understand.


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