Mumbai civic body looks to boost ‘Brand BMC’
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is looking at ways to strengthen its image and build its reputation by enhancing its social media presence across digital platforms, namely Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Telegram, YouTube and blogs.
It is now looking for a dedicated agency to maintain these platforms for at least nine departments of the civic body – public health department, education department, disaster management and fire brigade departments, roads and traffic departments, sewage, solid waste management and water departments, social media accounts of all 24 wards, various municipal hospitals, and the main umbrella account of the civic body. The agency will be hired on a contractual basis for content management, creation and improving creative design.
As part of this, the BMC wants to create interactive strategies such as quizzes, crossword puzzles, contests and online surveys, across these social media platforms, live streamlining and tweeting of events, live broadcasts and webcasts. Social media platforms will also be used to give out information on the civic body’s policy decisions, services, initiatives, and events.
Currently, an agency has been informally appointed by the civic body to manage its various social media accounts, which was met with mixed reactions from BMC corporators, when it started two years ago. While some criticised it as a waste of BMC’s financial resources, others pointed it was much needed to effectively communicate with citizens, especially a younger audience.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner incharge of BMC’s disaster management, fire brigade and public health departments, among others, said, “We want to formalise a contract with any agency appointed with the due tendering process, that will manage BMC’s social media presence. Social media is an effective tool in communicating with citizens, and especially during a pandemic. Our expectations from the agency have been listed out in detail in the tender document. We have a comprehensive vision of social media communication.”
A tender floated by the civic body to appoint an agency said, “It will strengthen the image of the BMC as an empathetic local body and of Mumbai as a premier smart city. The aim is to bridge the gap between public perception and brand reputation of BMC.”
As part of the contract, that will be valid for one year, the BMC is looking for audio and video editors, creative content writers, public relations officers, translators, photographers, videographers.
Recently, the BMC undertook various initiatives to engage with Mumbaiites. In January, the BMC headquarters opened its doors to tourism, and organised guided history tours of the BMC building on the weekends. For two years now, barricades placed along civic work happening on roads and footpaths across the city sport fun facts about BMC’s history, or Mumbai City.
A senior civic officer said, “It is time we looked at customer experience. This type of social media exercise will also give credibility to the information about the civic body that is floating in the public domain. It will help us counter fake information effectively, create awareness, educate Mumbaiites about the work done by the civic body. Citizens can feel closer to the civic body because they can directly reach us, convey queries or grievances from their phones.”
Ravi Raja, leader of the opposition in BMC, said, “The BMC has tried using social media before and failed. Each administrative head comes up with his own idea. In times of a pandemic, we need to think before we utilise money for such an initiative.”
Nayana Kathpalia, a resident of South Mumbai, who has been engaging with the BMC for two decades through various community and citizens initiatives, said, “This is a good idea. The BMC does a lot of work, but there is not enough awareness or information about it. Some years ago, the BMC was constructing an underground water tunnel between Malabar Hill and Churchgate area. The work was done so seamlessly, quietly, without interfering with routine public life. No one even realised that a huge tunnel was being constructed under main roads, railway lines and residential buildings in South Mumbai. We are always bashing the BMC, so it’s time we also saw how much work gets done on the ground.” Kathpalia added, “However, the civic body should examine if it’s premature to spend so much money on non-Covid information at present.”