While one of the big buzz words was “sustainability” in 2011, this year already appears to be the year of engagement… with peers, co-workers, customers and others. From creating desires to visit a FINA/7-Eleven convenience store to extending the customer experience beyond store doors, LPR client Alon Brands illustrates engagement at its best through its Clean TEAM initiative. Clean TEAM recognizes and awards FINA/7-Eleven stores for clean and attractive facilities, as well as top-quality customer service. This program goes the extra mile in recognizing the hard work and persistence it takes to make a store customer-ready.

On Thursday, Feb. 2, a group of Alon Brands employees and FINA/7-Eleven store managers and employees gathered across the street from store #51703 on Menaul Blvd. in Albuquerque to honor winning store manager Christina Lopez. Joined by Trudy Jones of the Albuquerque City Council and Joy Davis of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, company leaders recognized and spoke about the importance of well-run and well-stocked convenience stores to the community.

At the end of the event, Christina received the keys to a 2012 Chevrolet Equinox. This presentation is, in itself, a form of engagement. The award sets the standard for other FINA/7-Eleven stores to strive toward, as well as reinforces the engagement demonstrated by Christina and her teammates.

Going beyond the Clean TEAM event, Alon Brands sponsored a Customer Appreciation Week at all the company’s stores in Albuquerque during the week of the Clean TEAM event, providing customers with discounts and giveaways. This is another form of customer engagement, a key element to creating brand relationships.

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Whether you’re a store manager organizing your employee’s daily assignments or a store employee making sure the store is ready to deliver an over-the-top customer experience, engagement connects everyone together.

Food for thought, from the public relations perspective: The realm of public relations works the same way: employees, professionals and clients are all connected through engagement. Without the buzz word “engagement” in the public relations profession’s vocabulary, our job would cease to exist.