“Professional cat herder” isn’t a job title any marketer wants.
However, corralling felines is probably easier than managing content production and media outreach without an editorial calendar.
In fact, if you’re not using something to schedule your content production, it’s likely you’re not working efficiently or effectively.
Here’s how to get your workflows aligned, your cross-channel messaging synchronized, and your stress levels back down to a manageable level.
How Do I Build an Editorial Calendar?
You have two choices here.
You can either build one out with a spreadsheet, or you can use an app.
We’re partial to using CoSchedule, but then again, we’re biased.
Pros to Using a Spreadsheet
- Can be edited or formatted any way you like.
- Using a cloud-based solution such as Google Sheets or Office 365 allows for easy team collaboration.
We’ve built a free calendar spreadsheet template using Google Sheets you can copy and use here.
If you’d like to build one yourself, however, follow these steps:
Step 1: Create a new spreadsheet with tabs for each month:
Step 2: Add headers for months, columns for weeks and days, and rows for each channel and content type.
You can also add specific dates and times.
Step 3: Add any color coding you’d like
Pros to Using an Editorial Calendar App
- Automation saves time. No copying and pasting messages from a spreadsheet into each social platform.
- Built-in analytics and communication tools further save time switching between apps and the dashboard.
- Can plan and schedule all of your blog content, landing page, events, and social media within one dashboard. You can also track news release launches and manage team communication, all within one dashboard.
How to Use Your Editorial Calendar
The first step is to actually put some content in your calendar.
Seems obvious, right?
For most marketing and PR professionals, the most logical place to start is likely with your core content.
Depending on your role and strategy, this could mean blog posts, landing pages, or news releases.
If you’re hosting an event, you can also place that on your editorial calendar, along with all your associated social media messages.
Start by filling in headlines or topic ideas on the days these pieces will publish.
If applicable, you can even include a link to where they’ll be created in your CMS for easy access.
Then, you can add links to where those items are located to find them fast.
If you’re using CoSchedule, these items can be placed directly in your calendar.
Next, you’ll want to coordinate your social media outreach around each content item.
This is where things can get complicated, especially if you have multiple team members creating content.
However, it’s also where an editorial calendar can shine.
Some of these benefits include:
- Ensure messaging stays consistent across channels.
- Makes it easy to plan and write social media posts alongside your core content (rather than days or weeks afterward).
- Ensures each piece of content gets the push it deserves on social media.
- Preparing your bread and butter content up front frees you to fully focus on other things that may arise (such as a brand crisis).
- Your entire team can have full visibility of all your social messaging in one place. This makes it easy for team members to catch inconsistencies between your content and your social messages.
Test Different Approaches to Optimize Your Editorial Calendar
Start by writing your social messages directly in your calendar.
Remember to mix up the types of messages you send.
Try experimenting with the following:
- Closed-ended questions to drive engagement.
- Open-ended questions to spark conversation.
- Statements that tease the information waiting in your linked content.
- Statistics or interesting facts.
- Copy that inspires varying emotional sentiments (ex: curiosity, excitement, anger, etc.).
Once you have your content machine rolling, it’s advisable to optimize your efforts.
This means testing posting at different days and times until you hit on what works best for you.
Then, adjust your content planning in your editorial calendar according to your findings.
You can store data gathered from your tests either in a spreadsheet, or within a project management app.
Now Stop Herding Cats (and Get Organized)
You’re now equipped with the knowledge and tools you need to fully synchronize your messaging throughout your content marketing and PR workflows.
If you have any questions or additional tips, add your comments below.