It’s a big day for Ontario. Our children start school and the provincial election will be called. Ontario’s will be one of five provincial elections taking place in Canada this autumn (Alberta make deliver a sixth):

  • Prince Edward Island (October 3)
  • Manitoba (October 4)
  • Ontario (October 6)
  • Newfoundland (October 11)
  • Saskatchewan (November 7)

I will be monitoring and sharing digital analysis of these elections and roll up my findings into a larger body of research which includes the work I did during the federal election. Look for some stats later today.

As part of this research, I will be conducting interviews about the role of digital in the election and effective integrated election campaigns. That is, campaigns which use both traditional and digital means to reach and engage with the public rather than using each in isolation of each other. I spoke with NDP candidate Anthony Marco last night. It was a great conversation. Unfortunately, the audio quality was terrible.

I started my interview series with Anthony for two reasons. First, I know him from the Canadian podcast community. More importantly, though, he understands digital culture, content creation and online community building. He presents a fantastic opportunity to observe someone who uses a variety of online means to communicate with others. So, as an extension to his door-to-door campaigning and participating in public events including the Smithville Fair this past weekend.

Anthony’s core digital toolkit for this election is his official NDP website, his personal Twitter account and the Elect Anthony Marco: Niagara West – Glanbrook Facebook Fan Page which incorporates short, daily E-day Countown audio podcasts about the campaign and election issues which Anthony is publishing to his Posterous account.

Anthony’s digital strength is that he’s using a variety of complementary tools and -more importantly- he’s generating genuine, unscripted content. He knows which channels to use and how to use them as part of a whole. He hasn’t spread himself too thin. He isn’t half-using tools. He’s not presenting himself as a reading robot. And, he’s not deferring to his team to speak in his voice on his behalf.

As near as I can tell, his digital efforts may have an overall limited impact to his campaign for a primary reason. The demographic of his riding skews older – it may not be an online-engaged constituency. Fully integrating his campaign will have limited positive impact and may serve to confuse or distract some of Anthony’s constituents. Canada, particularly its political seam, is not yet held together by social media. Those who are connected, though, will be able to gain a much better understanding of Anthony and his party in a riding where the incumbent, Conservative leader Tim Hudak, has suggested he has no plans to participate in all-candidates debates.

Are you a candidate using digital channels (or not)? Are you on a campaign team or an observer? Do you have a story to tell about the use/role of digital in one of Canada’s autumn elections, or how integrated campaigns are evolving? Please drop me a line. I’d like to speak with you.