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City Managers are Younger and More Educated than Mayors: Does It Matter?

You want your products and services in front of mayors and city managers, do you?

Of course you do.

Mayors and city managers are the two top leaders in local government.  And in almost every local government, these are the two most influential people.  Therefore, for most purchases, these two people either:

  • Heavily influence the people who are evaluating suppliers
  • Make the decision about which supplier to choose
  • Approve somebody else’s recommendation about the supplier to choose

So when identifying the ROLES you want to target in local government, including the top elected officials (e.g. mayors) and top appointed executives (e.g. city managers) is a no-brainer.  You want these top two decision makers to be aware (and have a positive impression) of your brand.


Every single local government in the United States has a top elected official; but of the local governments with a population of 1,000 or more, only 9,449 (about 44%) have a top appointed executive (e.g. a city manager). And Power Almanac has 96% of their email addresses!

Top Appointed Executives

But here’s where top-performing local government marketers stand out from the crowded field of professionals.

Many local government marketers use the same tactics and messaging with mayors and city managers, as if the two leaders are interchangeable.

They’re NOT interchangeable!

The Role of Mayor and City Manager are NOT Interchangeable

While both are critical leaders, the roles are very different.   

Mayors are always elected, always a policy-maker, and only sometimes responsible for managing the operations of the local government. City managers, however, are always appointed, not responsible for overall policy making, and always responsible for managing operations.

These differences alone are enough to consider applying different marketing tactics for each role; but there are even MORE differences.

Studies conducted by our partner, CivicPulse, show that mayors and city managers are considerably different in age and education, as well.

Read: think twice before using the same marketing approach for the officials in each role.

Demographics matter

Top Appointed Executives are YOUNGER than Top Elected Officials

The chart below illustrates that the majority of both Top Appointed Executives and Top Elected Officials are 51-70 years old (61% to 67% respectively).

But if you look more closely, you’ll recognize that for the other 35-40%, city managers are considerably younger.

Why does this matter?

Perhaps your marketing copy to city managers should be uniquely crafted for a younger population.

Perhaps the digital channels you use to reach these two roles should be different. 

Perhaps, indeed.


Last year, Power Almanac searched LinkedIn profiles for senior officials including Top Elected Officials and Top Appointed Executives.  We analyzed a random sample of 520 decision makers from each of the 13 senior official roles we had available at the time. 

We have 15 roles as of September 2021!

The role least likely to be found on LinkedIn is the Top Elected Official (e.g. mayor). The roles most likely to have a presence on LinkedIn are the Top Appointed Executives (e.g. city managers) and the Heads of Human Resources at 73% each.

Li presence

Clearly, mayors are more difficult to find than city managers on LinkedIn. But the stronger take-away is that age might play a part.  We didn’t have CivicPulse’s age data when we developed this LinkedIn-related post, but the age difference may help explain the vast difference in social media presence.

Want more details of this analysis? Read Unique Challenges Using LinkedIn for Local Government Marketing

Top Appointed Executives are MORE EDUCATED than Top Elected Officials

According to the CivicPulse data below, not only are Top Appointed Executives more likely to have a college degree, they’re also far more likely to have a graduate degree.

More educated
  • 87% of Top Appointed Executives (e.g. city managers) have a college degree or more, vs. 71% of Top Elected Officials (e.g. mayors).
  • Top Appointed Executives (e.g. city managers) are 61% MORE LIKELY to have a graduate degree than Top Elected Officials (e.g. mayors), at 59% vs 37%.

What about those with no college education at all?  Research confirms Top Elected Officials are twice as likely as Top Appointed Executives to have no college degree (8% vs 4%).

No college

Know Your Audience

Data substantiates big differences in age and education between city managers and mayors.  This means in addition to critical differences in responsibility between the two roles, there are demographic differentiators as well.

Say it louder for the local government marketers in the back!

From a marketing perspective, do NOT treat the roles of mayor and city manager interchangeably.

Reaching out to both of these critical local government roles may be a cornerstone of your marketing strategy because their influence is undisputed.  But before you go-live with your final marketing content, rethink sending both sets of officials the same messaging via the same channels.

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