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  • Zeb Carlson

What is the deal with Editorial Calendars?

Think about it: Content Marketing isn't new. Newspapers and magazines have used editorial plans as the foundation of their content planning for ages. And in digital, social media, bloggers and even recipe websites paved the way for using this approach to create stories that sync people’s desires at the right time, not to mention scoring some epic SEO ranking.

Back in ye olde thymes, marketers typically would create a campaign and distribute a single message to everyone, often hoping and begging for people to take action (those of us in the biz refer to this as “spray & pray”).

Welp, those days are gone: With an always-increasing amount of noise online and off, it's all about how to nurture LTR’s with your fans by finding out what they care about and communicating authentic messages that speak to their motivations.

And the essence of a content-driven approach is all about planning for the long haul. This is where an editorial calendar scores big points.

101: What’s an Editorial Calendar?

An editorial calendar collects seasonality and psychographic trends, programming such as community events or fundraising gatherings, public relations, paid media, go-to-market dates for product launches, and promotions. Got a donor campaign starting in March? Or launching a new line of swag on your online store? Put ‘em in the calendar.

The EC (let’s go with this, everyone loves an acronym, right?) is a physical document, often a spreadsheet shared in Google Drive. And it’s also a workflow; a new way of asking contributors to chime-in on how to create and publish everything from social media posts to blog posts, email campaigns, and all the other stuff you'll create in the coming months.

Why are you an advocate of this calendar, Zeb?

OMG, I could talk about this for hours! I’ll keep it short. I promise.

In a word, focus. This bugger helps you focus.

Think of the editorial calendar as a bad-ass home for all the things your organization does throughout the year. It creates a space for people to share their ideas, projects, and so much more. It’s an accelerant of collaboration.

As a content marketer, I’ve seen over and over how this process streamlines the day-to-day efforts for a comms team. Listen, our work lives are chaotic and coming up with Facebook posts or an email campaign in the moment is really hard to do.

Planning, baby. Let's get these efforts into an EC!

Connecting the goals of your marketing ambition to facilitate themes and individual content calendars for the coming months jump-starts your efficiency, obviously, but even more so? You start being able to create content that truly connects. Words that matter, not online noise we roll our eyes at.

Here’s a pro tip: We call it evergreen content, meaning it isn’t dependent upon a specific date. Creating a bank of evergreen content is an incredible time saver. It can be as simple as mission moments or excerpts from your message bank* and can be published any time throughout the year.

Have questions? Have some tips on how you've adopted a content planning discipline for your organization? Send me a note; I'd love to learn what works for you. And if you want a helping hand on how to get this process off the ground, let’s talk. I guarantee that a little effort to create an EC will reap huge rewards over the long haul.

*If you don’t have a message bank, we need to talk.

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