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  • Sophia Zheng

Connect with Local Businesses via Direct Communication Channel

For the past few months, City of Takoma Park, MD has been using the Bludot platform as the communication channel with local business owners. The city's Economic Development team had been looking for a tool to better connect with local businesses, and as shelter-in-place started, this was an especially timely need to engage with local businesses virtually while the community goes through economic hardship.

Via Bludot's communication portal, the city has been using the Group Post functionality to communicate with local businesses. For example, as more resources and funding opportunities arose in the county or state, the city has been diligently compiling those resources and sharing with all business owners. The group post functionality allows the communication to be sent to all businesses or a subset of businesses, as identified by labels or individual business names. For example, when the city was communicating relating to the emergency grant, the group post was sent to businesses that have the label "Emergency Grant Applicant". Similarly, when the city was announcing results of the application, the message was sent to the individual businesses who received the grant.

To account for the needs of multilingual residents who make up a significant portion of the city's demographic, posts in foreign languages are also supported. "We had a universal post that went across every business owner's interaction feed and it says 'welcome to the business communication platform'... Because of the diversity and language needs in our community, we also selected to post it again in Spanish." said Samira Cook Gaines, Economic Development Manager for the city.

Businesses have also been invited to register on the city's Bludot portal. By creating an account, it gives the businesses an additional benefit of being able to log in to the portal and communicate with the city directly. The city carefully crafted a thoughtful message in the invitation to not only introduce the businesses to Bludot, but also communicate the city's goal of using the tool to better serve the local business community. Since then, businesses have increasingly reached out to the city to ask questions, check for status, etc. via the Bludot portal. However, registration is not required for a business to receive communication from the city. All businesses, regardless of their sign-up status, will always receive the communications in their email inbox.

Having an easy-to-access, secure communication portal has empowered the city to engage and connect with business owners with minimum friction and maximum impact. "I was on a video call with several businesses most recently and someone actually mentioned the Bludot platform and said 'I signed up for Bludot and it's been really good because the city has been able to share additional resources with it', and immediately I was very happy to hear that the businesses felt like they had a connection to the City of Takoma Park, their city that they've invested in during this challenging time."

To view the complete video from City of Takoma Park sharing tips and examples of how they are using the system, click here.


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