Early in 2014, the Florida chapter of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the Florida City and County Management Association (FCCMA), formulated a task force which was directed to develop a plan for disseminating a campaign called Life, Well Run, throughout the state.

In 2011 the ICMA launched the Life, Well Run campaign, focused on spreading the value proposition of professional local government management. Their campaign originated from a Harris Poll finding that highlighted weakness in citizen understanding of the role professional managers play within their communities. While a third of citizens knew that city managers oversee the day-to-day operations of their community, only five percent could describe what a manager does or their important role in shaping that community. The ICMA made materials and information readily available in an attempt to encourage state chapters to adopt the campaign.

FCCMA task force members have collaborated with a Florida-based communications firm to outline a plan to highlight the efficiency, effectiveness and ethics, professional managers bring to local government. The overarching message that “Professional Management Matters” will be spread via media outreach, connections to professional organizations, event participation, and speaking engagements at multiple venues including educational institutions.

Due to the scope of this endeavor, the group quickly realized the need to leverage the support and dedication of select leaders within the profession. This gave rise to the Florida Ambassador program—a program launched in 2014 of elite professionals volunteering to help spread the message to further their profession’s mission.

Ambassadors will work to get the message that Professional Management Matters in front of key target groups—each uniquely benefiting from the message:

Elected Officials

Elected officials greatly impact the hiring and placement of city and county managers. It is therefore essential to 1) build awareness of the difference between hiring professional managers versus hiring someone lacking that level of experience, training and commitment to the profession; 2) enhance understanding of the positive impact that having a professional manager in place can have on how efficiently their cities and counties are run; and 3) garner appreciation for the significant role a professional manager can have on providing a high level of public services.

This target group includes those running for office, those filling vacancies for managers in the near future, as well as those currently in office. Additional touchpoints for the message include attendance/participation in a series of events hosted by the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Chamber, the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida Local Government Coalition.

Charter Review Committees

This target group represents individuals across the state functioning as charter review committee members. In this role, they review current city and county charters and deliver recommended adjustments and changes to the city council or county commission. Charter amendments and repeals, however, can only be achieved by a majority citizen vote.

The target group specifically includes charter review committee members of cities and counties for which their charter does not indicate a council-manager form of government. Among other things, city and county charters regulate the form of government. Therefore, it is important to disseminate the value proposition of professional managers to those cities and counties who have not adopted a council-manager form of government, or are considering a change.

Future City/County Professional Managers

Students currently enrolled in public administration programs at universities across the state represent the prospective next generation of professional managers. Building awareness and fostering an interest in this career path within this group is vital to bringing in fresh talent.

The goal with this target group is essentially to convey what a professional manager’s role is in the “big picture” and how the council-manager form of government impacts local government. These messages will be disseminated through interactions with deans at each of the universities housing accredited public administration programs, and by arranging speaking engagements at these universities.