Since the start of the year, David Ippolito, a New York street musician, has served as the test subject for a PR course taught by industry veteran George Dassinger at William Patterson University in Wayne, NJ. "That Guitar Man From Central Park,as Ippolito is commonly known, remains less than famous, but not because of a lack of effort on the students' part.
On March 16, Ippolito played a sold-out show at a small Upper West Side venue. To promote the show, Dassinger instructed his charges to write customized press releases, which they then sent to local media outlets.
One student managed a nibble from the listings editor at a New York tabloid.
In the end, however, the only coverage landed was an article in Passaic County's Herald News. As it happened, the photo that accompanied the story did not depict a strumming Ippolito, but rather a gesticulating Dassinger, prompting PRWeek to wonder if this was a case of the publicists getting more ink than the client.
Dassinger brushed that suggestion aside, pointing instead to something else the image showed. "The other day, I asked the class why I had written 'David Ippolito' on the blackboard in big letters,
he recalled. "One student raised his hand and said, 'Because that way, when they took your picture, his name was also promoted?'"
"That's when I like this project the best,
he added, "when you see that glimmer in their eyes: 'Oh, I get it.'"