The Importance of Editorial Calendars
If newspapers are a dying breed (and we're not saying they are), then there is at least one lesson we should take away from them before they are extinct (which we hope they never become) - the editorial calendar.
Editorial calendars have long been used in the publishing world to help organize and schedule content, stories, ads, and more. Editorial calendars keep issues of magazines and newspapers timely, diverse and on-track.
In today's world, small businesses and organizations are more apt than ever to be sharing loads of content with their customers, clients, followers, supporters and users. Today's consumers crave content, but because there is so much out there, they are only going to consume the best, most relevant content for their needs.
So how can you make sure you are producing and sharing the right content at the right time with the right people?
The Editorial Calendar is a great tool that is easily translated outside of the publishing world. Let's say you're a nonprofit organization and your annual fundraiser is coming up in three months. You know you need to get the word out about the event, but you're overwhelmed by the different platforms and mediums on which you need to share content about the event. An Editorial Calendar can easily organize all of this information and provide you and your team with a schedule to follow.
How do you get started with an editorial calendar?
We find the easiest way is with a speadsheet. If your organization uses Google Drive or another document sharing platform, then use that so that everyone is seeing and editing the same, live document.
You may want to set up different spreadsheets for different events, campaigns or mesages, or you could create tabs within one spreadsheet for each of these things. Let's use the nonprofit fundraiser as an example:
1. Start a new tab in your spreadsheet titled "Fundraiser." In this sheet create columns for each platform or medium you plan to share the message about this event. IE - Facebook, the organizations' website, the local newspaper's events calendar, a radio ad, twitter, the organization's blog, etc. etc.
2. In the far left hand column, create rows for each week and each day within that week from the time you will begin promoting the event until the date of the event.
3. For each day that you plan to produce or share content, put that content in the appropriate platform's column. (See example, below)
4. Follow your calendar!
The fourth step is probably the hardest, but sitting down and creating the calendar in advance means you're not racking your brain each day trying to figure out how to get the word out about your event, business or campaign. It will also help you see where you can reuse content. For example, once you've written a blog about the event, you can share that blog on your Facebook page one day, your Twitter feed the next day, then send it out in a press release the following week, re-share the blog on the event's Facebook page, post it on another Facebook group page where people may be interested and so on.
You can also create editorial calendars for specific mediums. For instance, if you're a small business and you want to start a blog on your website - you might create a spreadsheet just for blogging. That spreadsheet might have more specific information across the top such as what the topic of the blog will be, what the call to action is, what the specific tags and keywords are, etc. You'll keep the same sort of date list in the left hand column along the side:
As you can see, these calendars can be as general or as detailed as you need them to be - it's up to you and your business or organization's needs. The important thing is to take the time to sit down, make a plan, then enact that plan for ultimate success.
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