Breaking Down Editorial Planning Calendars
Breaking Down Editorial Planning Calendars – How to Choose the Right Type For Your Marketing Efforts.
Editorial calendars are incredibly useful tools. They help keep content organized—from topics to distribution channels to publishing. However, there are so many templates out there. And there are different uses for each one. Some may overlap, sure, but I’d like to explore a few editorial calendars and provide clarification on which to use and when. So, when the time comes for executing on your documented (right?!) B2B content strategy, you’ll be prepared.
Use Excel To Create Your Editorial Calendars
While there are many tools and platforms that can be used to manage your content and your calendar, I’m talking about straight-up Excel. At the end of the day, no matter how many people complain about Excel, it’s still a program that is both universally known and used. And sometimes you don’t need to get fancy—practical can be just as effective, too.
Here is a list of the most useful editorial planning calendars and how to use them for your various marketing efforts.
The Content Inventory
While it’s not a formal calendar, a content inventory is used during content audits and is a great way to keep track of all the existing content you’ve got—whether that be on your website or offline content. By offline content, I’m talking about sales presentations and other collateral that’s never seen the light of day or is for internal use only. Whenever I perform audits, I love getting my hands on sales presentations, because they’re usually packed with lots of great information that can be repurposed into public-facing content.
The way to set up an inventory list is to have the name/title of the content, its original location, the format it’s in and a column for notes on your observations. It’s this column that really gives greater context for your vision of what to do with the piece. You can also log ideas for new content topics and types—whether it’s from mining the existing content or combing through editorial calendars of relevant trade publications.
A content inventory is a living, breathing document that should continually be updated. If you’re ever running low on ideas, it’s a great reference to have.
When to Use Content Inventories
- At the start of a content audit
- Over the course of your content marketing program
- Yearly planning (update accordingly based on goals and objectives)
The Sample Editorial Calendar
Sample calendars are a great way to show what kind of content you’re publishing (articles, videos, infographics, etc.) and how frequently you plan on publishing. It gives you an idea of cadence and frequency and shows any gaps you may have.
Typically, I put together a sample calendar after I’ve done a content audit and am creating a content marketing plan. Some items on this calendar include dates (I recommend creating by week, since you’re not ready to go into actual publishing just yet) and content types (videos, articles, infographics, white papers). Within those cells, include the name of the piece. If you’re dealing with multiple campaigns, you can also differentiate by color coding your content by campaign.
Tip: When creating sample editorial calendars, start by breaking out a quarter at a time. Since it’s just to illustrate what production could look like, three months is a solid view of your content landscape.
When to Use Editorial Calendars
- After your content audit
- Share with internal team or client for approval
- Identifying PR outreach opportunities
The Standard Publishing Editorial Calendar
The most traditional of them all, the standard publishing editorial calendar is your go-to for production. You can get really granular and plot out your content by the day. Elements can include the topic, content type, URL, distribution channel and region. What’s great about creating these types of calendars is that you can customize it to the needs of your environment. Some questions to consider include: Is it for in-house use? Is it client-facing? Are you using it to help schedule within a content or social media platform?
When to Use Standard Publishing Editorial Calendars
- Publishing to your content hub
- Publishing to social media
- Regular e-newsletter publishing
- PR efforts
The Social Media Calendar
Strictly for social media purposes, this calendar contains your efforts for the month. An Excel doc (or SmartSheet) helps if you’re not using a platform like SproutSocial or Hootsuite, where I’d recommend using that to house your efforts. You can really have fun customizing this calendar. You can set it up by platform, or you can include all of them in one. Either way, if you’re publishing regularly, have your posts plotted out daily.
Tip: Make sure your social media, content marketing and public relations efforts are aligned so you can streamline the organization of your calendars and ensure all content is being promoted according to your B2B marketing strategy.
When to Use Social Media Calendars
- Publishing to social media
Which Type of Editorial Calendar Should You Use?
When it comes to editorial calendars, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It all depends on your needs, your marketing program and how processes and workflows are set up. You can make your calendar work for you. The ones I’ve mentioned here help me as I work through creating content strategies and content marketing programs for clients. Hopefully, they’ve given you some nuggets to use as well.
Godfrey helps complex B2B industries tell their stories in ways that delight their customers.