the spur magazine

#02 art, ciència, tecnologia i la ciutat

Contemporary Art. Communication and good practices

How to engage?

Alejandro Alcolea Marín

We currently deal with several forms of communications media in our public sphere. As I said in my presentation in The Spur project, the question today is “how to engage?”. How can we interact better with our public through social media and digital communications? On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever social media platform we use, we are working with emotions, with entertainment, and these are good news for contemporary art as well. It doesn’t mean that we have to switch from information to entertainment. We just have to look at and think about it in a different way.

That alternative way has been named “infotainment” by many philosophers and social science authors. This concept mixes information and emotions. And, most of the time, emotions work through images. At this point, it could be a good idea to make a little effort in order to adapt our communication skills to the changes in communications dynamics.

If we want to reach a good level of engagement, our connection with local groups is important as well. In social media, we can see and search how many groups around us are or could be interested in our projects. So this is another kind of work that we could do. It is also important to adapt our contents and tone to the media structures. In this case, for example, if we are tweeting, we have to think about how people are using Twitter at that moment, and what they expect from a Twitter account. Because the interactions in these spaces, most of the time, have their own way of working. At this point, we don’t have to give up our own way of communicating: we just need to adapt to the structure by changing some traditional ways. Facebook works its own way, Twitter as well. Instagram is very direct. Youtube, for example, allows us to see how other centres and people are creating their contents: Youtubers, musicians, television programmes are good examples. And that’s our current challenge.

After all of that, if we want to see what is going on, what the feedback from the public is like, we must look at the analytics or digital tools. Sometimes it’s easy, but from time to time we have to look at it and ask ourselves what is going well and what we can do better.

Another point in my presentation was about the local press relations. So in this case, first of all, we need to focus on media mapping. We need to know who we are. It means knowing the newspapers, radios, tv, magazines, art critics, blogs and everything, digital or not. We have to know the journalists we are working with but the media system in our communities as well, and which media outlet could be interested in each specific cultural project. Then, in order to reach them correctly, one of the most important things is that communication should be easy, understandable and organized. Therefore, when we are preparing a press release we have to be aware that journalists receive a lot of emails and other press releases during the day, so we have to write it as if it was published in this same way on the newspapers: then we are making our media colleagues’ work easier.

Finally, I talked about keeping our issues under control at all times. We cannot send, for example, three press releases a week, because it could be confusing for the media. So we have to look at the contents we have and organize the timing of our communications plan. Another point is when to present media events, the press conferences. To create news may be a good way, but it should always be justified because if it is not we could lose credibility. We also need to be aware of the timetable of the media workers: for example, in our context, in Majorca, we try to keep an inter-island gaze: that means relating our contents to the interests of the media groups of other islands.

Alejandro Alcolea Marín

Cultural journalist. Graduate in Journalism and master's degree in Political Communication at the Complutense University of Madrid. Currently Communications Manager at Es Baluard Museu d'Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma. Before he worked in the Contemporary Culture Centre of Barcelona (CCCB), Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Fundación Telefónica España, Europa Press and Diario de Mallorca. He is interested in new technologies, sociology, contemporary art, cinema and cultural projects in general.