The Florida City and County Management Association (FCCMA) is a professional organization of practicing public administrators from cities and counties throughout Florida. Public administrators are appointed, not elected, and are present in governments with a council-manager charter. The FCCMA strives to further the council-manager form of government by showing evidence of the benefits of having a professional manager in place as opposed to an elected official (mayor). The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) is the international organization of professional local government leaders.
In 2013, the FCCMA hired HCP to develop recommendations regarding best practices for rolling out a communications campaign throughout Florida. A campaign entitled “Life, Well Run” had been developed by the ICMA, and this organization was challenging the statewide affiliates to disseminate the message.
HCP worked with the organization over a series of months, refining the strategy of the effort and the overarching message and reaching out to municipalities who had already taken the ICMA up on their challenge to ascertain methods that had yielded the greatest success. Given the FCCMA’s limited manpower and resources, HCP recommended developing an ambassador program whereby professionals actively involved in the profession would be the face and voice for spreading the agreed-upon message that Professional Management Matters.
Eager to see the Florida Ambassador Program take shape, the FCCMA brought HCP on board to manage the program and consult with their committees and staff. Through this program, esteemed local government professionals would reach out to affinity groups that included their peers, elected officials, the next generation of professional managers currently in college, and charter review boards.
In early 2014, over a series of months, HCP developed a detailed plan of action for the Ambassadors. HCP worked with an FCCMA task force to divide up the state and pinpoint prospective ambassadors representing an initial test region. HCP trained the initial group of Ambassadors from the first region in February of 2015, and the group of professional managers immediately began outreach in pursuit of their mission.
Ongoing management of the effort includes social media support, website management, content development for the website, presentation development, editorial content, speaking opportunity pursuits, monthly organizational conference calls with ambassadors and committee members, support at the FCCMA annual conference, campaign tracking and monitoring, and more.
The roots of this overall effort date back to a 2009 Harris Interactive poll. Data from this poll indicated a very weak understanding among the public of the role that professional managers play within their community; only five percent could describe what a manager does or their important role in shaping a community. Through this program, Ambassadors continue to build more and more traction within the state, aiming to substantially enhance understanding and appreciation for professional management. Within the first 90 days of efforts, the Ambassadors reached over 2,000 individuals, more than doubled the organization’s LinkedIn following, and spoke to students at all colleges within the region that offered a Public Administration track.