A community of convenience: an ethnographic case study of narrative relationship-building in public relations


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A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER of ARTS in COMMUNICATION from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The purpose of this case study was to gain in-depth understanding of how a convenience store with a nationally recognized reputation of friendliness, creates relationships with its mobile and ever-changing customers and employees through the construction and implementation of their corporate narrative. Using an ethnographic approach, the researcher enacted the role of participant-observer to gather information and rich description of customer and employee experiences in the store. The results of the study reflect this company authentically shared their corporate narrative with their stakeholders - employees and customers. As such, that narrative, successfully passed on from their employees to their customers on a daily basis, serves to create a following, a community and brand loyalty with customers, while simultaneously fostering community among their customers. In addition, this study adds to knowledge in academic literature, as well as for the public relations practitioner. From an academic perspective, it offers a unique view inside an organization's public relations efforts through observation of customer and employee communication. Further, since there are few ethnographic studies in public relations, particularly from the customer perspective, this study provides a unique opportunity to understand the effectiveness of public relations strategies as they build relationships, community and brand loyalty. From a public relations standpoint, the case study provides specific strategies on how to create authentic relationships between employees and customer, while offering customers a uniquely personalized experience with a convenience store model.
Communication & Media
College of Liberal Arts