Don't Get Caught Off Guard

As a candidate, being informed about your district is important. While you don't have to know everything all the time, being informed about the issues and what is going on in your district is an advantage.

If you're the most informed person in the room, you'll be more confident in interactions with voters, the media and donors. 

Here are a few simple ways to be the most informed person in the room throughout your campaign: 

1. Take a day to drive, bike or walk your district

You'll be surprised at how much you learn about your neighborhood by walking through it. You'll notice businesses you haven't noticed before and streets you didn't know existed. Take a Saturday morning early in the campaign to see your district. Check out the coffee shops, talk to the local business owners and just drive up and down every street you can get to.

2. Use social media

Even if you don't plan to tweet and post to Facebook as a way to get votes, they can be valuable resources for knowing what's going on in your district.

Twitter allows you to create lists you can follow. Set up a list specifically for your city or district, and add the top influencers to it. Twitter allows you to search for pre-existing lists too, so try that before you spend hours creating the list. If you do decide to create your own, one time-saver is to limit yourself to 50 members to start (begin with local newspapers and blogs, elected officials and "big names" in the district) and then add to it as those 50 members tweet about other influencers. 

Facebook also allows you to create interest lists, and they'll make suggestions about other people to add as you build your list. Here's

3. Set up an RSS feed

RSS feeds are a great way to keep up with blogs and the local papers. I use Feedly to organize the blogs I follow. Feedly allows you to search blogs directly from their site - so try a few keywords like your hometown and add those to the feed. Then check out the local news section for your local paper - they'll often have an RSS feed and you can copy and paste the URL into feedly search engine. 

One note about RSS feeds - it's tempting to feel like you have to read every article when you see "25 unread posts." Don't fall into that trap. Assign 30 minutes each morning or evening to reading the feed. When your time is up, hit the "mark all as read" button and move on. 

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