Luís Poupinha.

Public Relations activities in Museums: a comprehensive observation taking into account the four values of an object by Baudrillard.

Public Relations (or communication management) is related to the possibilities of an organization to say what it is or how does it wants to be seen. In a quite simple way, people can call it “impressions management”. Some people call it “communication”, which is one of the designations in European Continent taken to replace the designation Public Relations. The emphasis on Communication has been argued by James Grunig as one of the abstract sub-functions inside an organizational system, linking managerial, productive, disposal, adaptative and administrative sub-functions (Grunig & Hunt, 1984). However, even if Communication is a huge (and a kind of compulsory ability) part of Public Relations, it is not something which is typical of Public Relations, since communication is a natural human communication activity. Public Relations means communication and something else.

Public Relations is a diplomatic function within organizations (L’Étang: 1996), managing communication between an organization and its publics (taking into account who those publics are) (Grunig & Hunt: 1984), performing several roles (Poupinha: 2002), influencing or performing the communicative actions towards that communication and, in terms of content, working over the four values of what we call here a discourse over objects, taking into account what Baudrillard says regarding the values of an object: exchange, symbolic, sign and use (Baudrillard: 1995)

This paper is about the consideration of the communication means of a museum in Portugal and the way it explores those values over institutions and objects on them.

In a comprehensive and ethnographic way, one take into account the formal communication of Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea and Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga. Our methodology is based upon ethnography, in terms of field observation (as visitors), ethnographic content analysis and semi-directed interviews with responsibles of the museum (General Directors and Communication and Education Responsibles).

The hypothesis is obvious and is related to the confirmation of the idea that Public Relations communication activities deal with the four values of an object of discourse (use, symbolic, exchange and sign), sustained by a structure of defined strategies and structures related to the diplomatic function inside organizations, performing specific roles on it and taking into account elements of the context.

The relevance of the text takes into account the richness of the communication contents of this kind of institutions and the possibilities of observing the richness of public relations activity in this kind of field.

Luís Miguel Paulino Poupinha.

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