Do you know what your brand is publishing next week? What about next month, or next quarter? Effective content marketing doesn’t consider individual pieces in isolation, rather as components of an overall strategy. Think of it as parts of a spider web that, working together, catches more customers. In order to execute your content marketing strategy effectively, you must make this bigger picture visible, and plan it from a strategic perspective.
When businesses come to us wanting help with their content marketing, one of the most common recommendations we make is to create a ‘brand newsroom’, a content marketing engine operating with a publishing mindset. In any effective brand newsroom, there will be a managing editor, or chief content officer, who oversees content creation and coordinates distribution. To achieve the consistency and quality of a regular newsroom, an editorial calendar is an essential tool to this editor.
We’re not the only ones who believe this. In fact, some of the most famous content marketers in the world consistently sing the praises of an editorial calendar including Arnie Kuenn, Michele Linn and Pam Didner.
What is a Content Marketing Editorial Calendar?
If you come from a publishing, journalistic or traditional media background, you’ll be familiar with the idea of an editorial calendar. Any successful newspaper, magazine, radio or TV station has a calendar set out for the months to come that shows all involved parties what is going out when.
A content marketing editorial calendar takes this concept and uses it in the context of a brand newsroom. The goal of an editorial calendar is to provide a single, visible information source that shows an organised overview of what content a brand is putting out.
What goes in your editorial calendar?
Thinking about setting up an editorial calendar for your brand? As a starting point, your first function to set up should be a scheduling calendar. In a typical calendar format, plan out a minimum six months in advance, keeping in mind significant dates and events to use as the basis for topical content.
Your editorial calendar should allow the function to specify the title, format and author of each piece of content as a minimum. You may also want to include keywords, categories and calls to action used.
Once you’ve got these basic functions down, your editorial calendar can also be used to plan content not yet developed. Depending on your format, you may be able to store SEO research, proposed topics and pipeline information in your calendar.
Tools for creating an editorial calendar
There are several ways you can go about creating an editorial calendar. To get started you may want to take a look at some free content marketing editorial calendar templates available for download. There are heaps available, including:
Alternatively, if you are only running blog content there are several WordPress plugins you can try. Or if you’re an Excel whiz you can create one of your own formatted using your brand colours and fonts. Regardless of how you create one, it’s important to store your editorial calendar in a secure and publicly accessible location. A common choice for content marketers is via Google Drive, where the document is owned by the Managing Editor, and content contributors are invited to edit or view the document.
Does your brand struggle to populate an editorial calendar? For help with your content creation and distribution, contact Lush – The Content Agency.