Inspiring audiences: the challenge of cultural communication

Image by Rui Ferreira Text by Belén Zuazo

The question "Will anyone show up?" is not uncommon in the field of cultural creation and production. We are not sure that our project has been correctly understood by the audiences. Or is it that we have not been able to convey the value of what we are doing? In this article, we will discuss cultural communication, including its specificities, challenges and potential.

Cultural communication is not just any communication

In most cases, when we are promoting culture, we are promoting experiences with a symbolic value, that is, intangible. Although this abstract character is not exclusive to the creative and cultural area, it is at the core of its value proposition. And promising unforgettable experiences is simply not enough to seduce audiences overwhelmed by countless offers and stimuli.

Translation, mediation and interpretation are essential to convey messages accurately, preserving meaning and adding value. Ultimately, the goal is to make the intangible aspects of culture as tangible as possible.

Anticipating experiences

Cultural communication functions not only as a translation but also as an anticipation of what the audience will see, hear and taste. In a way, it forms part of the creative piece as a whole. This means that it should be in dialogue with the project’s character: for example, if the project is provocative, the communication should be provocative as well.

Within the Portuguese panorama, it is worth mentioning the Bons Sons Festival, with a communication campaign that anticipates the audience’s reaction to the music, including their feelings and impressions. A campaign that manages to properly interpret, generate intrigue, and add value to a piece, will help attract the right audience.

Choosing the right channels

Even if the messages are carefully thought out and beautifully articulated, using inappropriate communication channels can cause our communication strategy to fail. Understanding where our audience is, what media it frequents and what content it consumes is essential to developing an effective communication strategy. This may include surveys, social media analysis, market research and other relevant sources of information.

The cultural sector relies on a wide variety of online and offline media, such as billboards and print advertising, radio, television, podcasts, social networks, email, phone, online ads, websites, events and cultural agendas. Once we know how an audience communicates, it is important to develop a multichannel strategy, avoiding placing — as the saying goes — all our eggs in one basket.

Sustainability as a principle

Communicating culture is also distinguished from other areas by its educational purpose and commitment to society. In this sense, it is aligned with the sustainable development objectives, and should be articulated as such. Sustainable communication embraces its role as a promoter of sustainable human development, reducing environmental and social footprint.

Transparency, inclusiveness and originality are some of the communication attributes valued by today’s audiences. This means that our messages should not only inform truthfully, but also inspire, build trust, and ultimately enrich the lives of our public, fostering a deeper connection between culture and society.

The potential of cultural communication as a bridge between the public and the cultural heritage of a society is great. However, it requires a specific approach and specialized skills to attract the right audiences and create long-lasting impact. To learn more about the subject, feel free to subscribe to our blog.