Should a Marketing Background be Mandatory for a Mayor?
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Should a Marketing Background be Mandatory for a Mayor?

  • May 28, 2013

I just had a Twitter conversation with the Mayor of Grande Prairie, AB.

Why is that cool? Well, for a few reasons.20130528_130645-1

1) I grew up with Mayor Bill Given and have known him since I was 13-years-old. In fact, Bill was my grade 12 grad date. #TrueStory

2) Bill is Mayor of Grande Prairie. He is in his mid-30s and at the helm one of Canada’s busiest and growing cities. That’s #DamnCool if you ask me.

3) Bill uses social media frequently as a tool to communicate and connect with citizens. #GPAB rocks.

Bill is not the only Mayor in Alberta who is noted for his social media engagement. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi garnered a great deal of attention during the Mayoral race for his ability to use social media – and use it well. He continues to connect with audiences daily through these real-time tools.

As #YEG (Edmonton) gears up for its Mayoral race, it’s going to be interesting to watch how candidates leverage social media to connect with voters. We’ve already seen some interesting comments about this, most notably the criticism of Kerry Diotte’s usage of Twitter by outgoing Mayor, Stephen Mandel.

Here are my thoughts… I think it’s great to see politicians and city leaders connect with audiences and communicate in real-time with voters. I also like that they can receive feedback from community members, and social media platforms enable this two-way exchange in such an open and transparent way. I’d say it is a MUST for anyone whose job is to be the voice of the citizens.

I have a great deal of respect for how Bill Given and Naheed Nenshi have been trailblazers in this regard, and it’s great to see many political figures following suit.

What I love most about Mayor Given and Nenshi is that they each have a marketing and communications background. In fact, Bill Given studied graphic design & visual communications before operating his own consulting firm, and Naheed Nenshi was the marketing instructor for my PR degree program at Mount Royal University.

Knowing this, and the success of each Mayor in his respective city, my questions are:

  1. Does knowing and understanding communications/marketing better equip someone to run a town/city?
  2. And should a marketing background be mandatory for a Mayor?