If you want to be an effective political campaign candidate, you need to make sure that you stay educated and up-to-date on the many election issues that might affect your district and your constituents.
There was a time when political candidates had to rely on daily newspapers and magazines for staying current on the issues, but the Internet has made it easier than ever before to keep up with local news. I use a free tool called Google Alerts to have instant notifications sent to my email inbox anytime an issue that affects my district gets published online, and you can easily do the same.
Google Alerts takes only a moment to set up, and it’s an extremely useful online tool. To use it, simply go to the Google Alerts interface, then type the keyword phrase that you want to be updated on in the box labeled “search terms.”
One of the first terms that you will want to create a Google Alert for is your own name, since you’ll want to stay informed about any website that publishes information about you or your candidacy. Make sure that you enter your name surrounded by quotation marks–for instance, “Phil Van Treuren,”–so that you are only notified when your entire name is mentioned, and not just part of it.
Next, you have the option of specifying what kind of search results you want to be notified about–news, blogs videos, discussions–but I simply choose “everything” so that I don’t miss any online mentions. You can also choose how frequently you want to be notified of new results (every day if you want) and how many results you would like to see in every email.
The last step is simply to enter the email address where you want the results to be sent, and you’re all set. Every time your specified Google Alert keyword phrase shows up in the search engine’s index, you will be sent a link to the page in the Internet where it appears.
A couple of tips: first, if you have a common name, you want to make sure that you narrow down your search specifications so that you are only notified when it’s sure to be referring to you. A Google Alert for the term “Bob Jones” would probably return hundreds of irrelevant alerts every day. But if you were to set a more specific Google Alert for +”Bob Jones” +”City Council” +”Ohio”, then most of the alerts would probably refer to you personally (putting the “+” symbol in front of phrases means to only return results that include that phrase).
You can set as many Google Alerts as you want, and the service is very reliable. After setting an alert for your own name, you might also want to set alerts for your political opponent’s name; the name of your town or city; and plenty of other keyword phrases that you might want to stay educated on.
Of course, you should still keep an eye on the daily papers to make sure you aren’t missing anything, but Google Alerts makes it much easier for political campaign candidates to stay current on issues that might play a role in their local election.