National Chief Shawn Atleo’s Campaign
Atleo demonstrated his commitment to keeping the youth involved in the process of change
In 2009, the Assembly of First Nations called an election for a new National Chief after the three-term Chief Phil Fontaine decided to step down. Shawn Atleo selected PR Associates to manage his media relations for the National Chief campaign. One of the main challenges for Shawn Atleo was a generation gap—he was the youngest candidate running for the position of National Chief and his main policy platform was Aboriginal education. It was necessary for him to communicate with Canada’s burgeoning aboriginal youth population, while at the same time finding effective ways to reach out to the Chiefs and First Nations communities in remote and rural parts of Canada.
Since 65% of aboriginals in Canada are under the age of 25 years old we identified an opportunity to communicate with them using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. By setting up a Twitter account early on in his campaign, Shawn Atleo was able to separate himself from his competitors by having a constant flow of communication between himself and his followers online.
From updating them on which First Nation he was visiting to outlining his long-term plans for education, Atleo demonstrated his commitment to keeping the youth involved in the process of change. By engaging social media, Atleo not only caught the attention of the youth population but also gained followers who were well versed in this media. The Twitter account was also useful for journalists following the campaign and resulted in over 400 print and broadcast stories during the course of the campaign. In the end, Shawn Atleo had over 40,000 followers in the online community, many of whom were instrumental in his election victory.
Shawn won the election, meaning all campaign work paid off, and he was named the new National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
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