What it means

Communications is a word that can mean different things in different contexts. Communications may refer to an organizational team or discipline, or it might be used in reference to outreach tactics—proactive as well as reactive. In all instances, the term communications encapsulates the focus on crafting and sharing messages in service of the museum and its institutional goals as well as helping build awareness and trust with the public and all institutional stakeholders, both internal and external. (See also Brand Equity.)

How it’s used

While communicating is something everyone does as part of their work, communications as a discipline—which is often, but not always, tied to marketing—strategically crafts and disseminates information and stories that support the museum’s value, mission, and contributions to the communities it serves. Communication also refers to, and is equally important for, both internal and external audiences.

Communications activities and tactics may include distributing information to the media via press releases, media alerts, and individual pitches; conducting media training and interview management for leadership and other staff, as well as sometimes serving as a spokesperson for the museum; developing key messages and talking points for museum leadership and other staff; developing language for the museum’s website and other external-facing materials (e.g., Annual Reports); and managing external public relations firms, crisis communications, and social media platforms.

Why it matters

Strategic communications outreach requires holistic knowledge of the organization, the museum field, and the political and social environment at large. It is important to have a centralized communications plan that supports the museum’s mission and values because the brand’s integrity and reputation are dependent on public perception.


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