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Working Without an Editorial Calendar Is the Worst Thing You Can Do

An editorial calendar is an absolute necessity for consistent, guided and informed content publishing.

More content marketing teams across B2B and B2C industries are setting up their daily operations with tactics straight from old-school print newspaper newsrooms. Some of these traditions include publishing content quickly to tie in the “chatter” of the day’s social media graph, staying close to Strunk & White editing principles (with some internet-centric exceptions) and managing a standing, though typically freelance, editorial team.
But one of the most relevant parts carried over from the editorial newsroom comes before the actual content creation. It’s the brainstorming, planning and the scheduling of content: the editorial calendar.

Benefits of an Editorial Calendar

The editorial calendar should serve as the roadmap for content, whether that’s 3, 6, 9 or 12 months ahead. A properly planned and prepped editorial calendar should help your team:

  • Better understand company content needs
  • Increase brainstorming prowess for content
  • Strategize content around business goals
  • Pair content with company news and announcements
  • Highlight special content projects
  • Keep overall track of content marketing projects

An editorial calendar should act as a guidebook to help deliver on a number of goals, including:

  • Attracting readers and viewers
  • Meeting SEO needs and overall business objectives
  • Connecting contributors with content owners
  • Enabling coordinated distribution on social channels

Editorial calendars are important for not only helping an editorial team keep track of content, but also for tracking other content elements, like audience personas, social strategies, SEO metrics and more.

Building an Editorial Calendar

There are a variety of calendar structures to choose from.  This might be an online template, a shareable spreadsheet, a presentation deck or even a text document, depending on scope, resources and size. But every calendar should have these 10 basic element:

  1. Content Topic / Theme / Category
  2. Content Creator (In-house or freelance?)
  3. Content Title (great titles matter!)
  4. Call to action (text and intended URL)
  5. Content Format (Blog post, video, image, design, infographic etc.)
  6. Intended Audience (primary/secondary)
  7. Keywords / SEO focus / Tag data
  8. Internal / External due dates
  9. Supporting media (infographic, photo, video)
  10. Distribution channels (website, external site, blog, social, etc)

There are ways to improve this basic set-up. Convince and Convert highly recommends integrating any social media plans into the overall editorial calendar. In fact, depending on the business/industry and content needs, it may be worthwhile to also integrate other plans and schedules, like product release schedules, event schedules, personal appearance schedules and more.
Tracking content with data and analysis over time will also provide a picture of which content works and which doesn’t for a desired audience. That analysis isn’t 100% integral at the very start, but 6 months in is a good time to start reviewing.
Creating an editorial calendar is a great start to a consistent and high-quality content marketing program. Without it, a team may end up constantly scrounging for content ideas on a moment’s notice.

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