Plan your work and work your plan. You’ve heard it before but how deeply integrated is that plan with your day to day? How far ahead are you planning? Recently, a few clients have asked about the best way to create and maintain an editorial calendar. Here is a crash course and a list of the 5 essential elements of an editorial calendar:
An editorial calendar has one important function. It serves to get your ideas, plans and schedule out of your head and in front of you. The content comes from across the organization and is plotted across all distribution channels. This means you want to list your blog, homepage, social sites, ads, guest posts, podcasts, etc.
Using an editorial calendar will quickly enhance your productivity and reduce stress. By having your content planned and a place to jot notes about future content you will be able to dive deeper into each content release. Seeing how your content aligns with each of your distribution channels allows you to better plan your engagement. Here’s an example:
Consider you’re about to release a new ebook, whitepaper or press release. You want to be sure you have touched these channels at least:
- Social Sites
Looking at these on a calendar you can tell if you have any conflicts. You also can set an end date for that conversation and begin to plan the next conversation on those channels. You will find what works for you but to get started make sure pay attention to these essential elements:
- Multiple views- Just like your analytics package, you want to view your calendar from multiple angles. Ideally you can easily switch between a full year, a quarter and month views. Also, we use a view that shows all elements of each particular project. In that case we plot a section for each of the six weeks leading up to launch and the two weeks following. That view is duplicated for each event or project you’re launching.
- Shared- Your calendar must be collaborative. You want oversight of course but you also want input from all departments and divisions. Primarily this helps keep efforts aligned but it also helps connect you internally. We always recommend staying open to who in your business can add value. More often than not we find room for improvement in this area.
- Define an audience- Each post, ad, whitepaper, podcast, etc should be directed to a target audience. Your calendar should allow you to assign a target audience to each post. This will help you see if there is an underserved audience in your content plan.
- Scalable- Some businesses are seasonal, others revolve around annual calendars. Ideally your editorial calendar will be useful next year, next season, etc. You will want to go back and assess what worked and what didn’t in the previous period. Take a minute to highlight the top performing content so you can move ahead with real numbers.
- Easy- Like many meta-projects, there will be a set up period and a learning period. Once that is in place, you should be able to update and adjust your editorial content without much effort. We recommend using a spreadsheet that everyone can access from wherever they are. It could be Google Docs or OneDrive, Yammer, we’ve even seen companies use Basecamp.
Our best advice it to make something that is as simple as possible and as comprehensive as necessary. Test and adjust what works for your company and culture. Of course you can contact us for tips and ideas based on your industry. Should we just post a sample calendar to download? Leave us your thoughts below and we’ll see what we can do.