When the Organization-Public Relationship is More Than Just Calculation: What We Can Learn from the Case Study of an Exemplar Community-based Intervention

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Working with publics and organizations at the community level has become increasingly important for government and non-governmental organizations, although, little is known about how to foster development of these relationships. Through the case study of an exemplar relationship between a national organization and a community-based organization, organization-public relationship theory is used to explore relationship type, antecedents, cultivation strategies, and relationship outcomes. Methods within the case study include in-depth interviews with organizational members, participant observation, and documentation. Strong support is found for the covenantal relationship type; capacity, readiness, and climate antecedents; cultivation strategies of networking, sharing of tasks, and access; and all relationship outcomes. Admiration, received support as an additional outcome and as a relational antecedent. Additionally, themes of customer service and researching and understanding publics emerged as cultivation strategies. This study has implications for forming relationships with publics and organizations at the community level, especially in health and social contexts.