Like a superhero, you have some extraordinary skills. You have the ability to persuade, influence and shape the way the world looks at your organization with just a simple click on a keyboard. And when there’s a crisis situation, you become “the defender” of the organization’s reputation— front and center, and prepared to take on the nonbelievers.
You are the public relations specialist. And the human resources, law, fiscal, IT, marketing or advertising departments don’t have anything on you. You are the most important employee in the entire organization. From Wonder Woman to Batman, the following is an overview of how the supernatural talents of the public relations specialist, like you, closely resemble the comics’ most infamous crusaders.
The Amazonian Warrior
Since over 80 percent of PR specialists are women, a Wonder Woman comparison is a no-brainer. According to DC Comics, the Paradise Island princess is the most celebrated heroine. Why? It’s because she has been featured on more promotional items, including media outlets, than any other DC superhero. Just like Wonder Woman, the PR specialist name or face —via print, television, radio or online interviews— often appears on a Google search more than anyone else in the organization.
Wonder Woman or Diana also is most recognized by comic book enthusiasts for her beauty. However, it’s her physical and mental strength that rivals any man; and is the Amazonian-warrior’s most impressive asset to the feminist community. The problem with the PR specialist is that she is often ridiculed for being woman.
“The growing feminization of rank-and-file publicists, though, has led a number of writers to chastise their fellow hacks for looking down on the PR Woman,”said Olga Khazan, an Atlantic reporter. “The fact that there are so many women in the industry makes it seem almost sexist to cackle at a horribly conceived press release.”
But like Wonder Woman, the PR specialist has the ability to let the naysayers bounce off her trademark bulletproof bracelets, while she continues to maintain her charm under tight deadlines and pressure. And every superhero has to have an arch enemy to battle. For the PR specialist, it’s the hard-nose investigative reporter. According to Khazan, the working relationship between the two often involves conflict.
“I myself have wondered about this tension between reporters and publicists,” said Khazan.
A possible motive, says Khazan, is that reporters are clueless when it comes to fully comprehending the power of the PR specialist. Another reason may be that most reporters are more like Superman. And his secret identity Clark Kent, says DC Comics, is consumed with taking on “the evil corporate tycoons and corrupt one-percenters that have overwhelmed the establishment”. In other words, the PR specialist can represent everything that the “Clark Kents” of the world have come to loathe. Torn between her responsibilities to promote goodwill with her own warrior training, both Wonder Woman and the PR specialist are constantly engaged in a never-ending battle with their counterparts. So who ultimately wins?
Over the decades, there has been plenty of speculation over who would win a fight between Wonder Woman and Superman. In the “Battle of the Sexes,” Wonder Woman beats Superman to a pulp. When it comes to the PR Specialist vs. the Journalist, in the end these foes must work together. But during times of crisis, it becomes more of a challenge; especially for the PR specialist whose primary responsibility to protect the organization at any cost.
The Dark Knight
While more women work in PR, over 80 percent of males hold the top management positions in the industry, which makes them more likely to be the company spokesperson. Therefore a Batman reference applies. According to DC Comics, he is the most terrifying superhero “because he’s pushed himself to the absolute pinnacle of human achievement”.
And like the Caped Crusader, be aware of the PR specialist or the spokesperson when there’s a company crisis. A spokesperson, especially during a disaster, is known for going into a deep defensive mode. For this dedicated employee, his efforts to support the company becomes like Batman defending Gotham with his calculated plans of attack and superhuman focus. Usually three steps ahead of his arch enemies or the journalists who seek to bring his company down, the PR specialist and his department thus becomes the most important function in the organization whose primary responsibility is to maintain a positive image. So could the company survive without the PR specialist or Gotham without Batman?
“Once Batman is away for a little while (such as the times during “No Man’s Land” and the “Knightfall” storylines), the city falls in to even more chaos,” says Shoshana Kessock, a TOR.com contributor and the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and ReImaginedReality.com. “Because now, despite whatever was before, Gotham and its Dark Knight are inexplicably linked.”
In other words, the answer is no. Without the PR specialist, how would anyone know about the company or what services it has to offer the public? And despite the ill-conceived notions that the public relation specialist sits around writing press releases or planning events all day, the job does require a great deal of talent. After all, the public relations specialist is responsible for informing, creating, directing, manipulating, motivating, encouraging, and altering people’s opinions, while making sure that the company remains relevant. There’s no one else in the organization that possess these types of supernatural powers.