New Year – New Plan: Try an editorial calendar

Editorial calendars

As the year comes to an end, everyone moves into planning mode. Budgets are developed, and programs are established. As a communicator, there’s another tool that can be a lifesaver as you move from one year to the next.

Editorial calendars can make sure nothing gets left behind. I think there’s a misconception about editorial calendars. People feel it’s only for content, but it’s not. These calendars can include important mail dates, board meetings, articles, social media content, program information, national programs, deadlines, and much more.

Editorial calendars can give you a clear picture of what’s ahead, keep you on message, and help organize other players on your team.

As you plan for the upcoming year, think about involving your whole department. It’s important to get fresh perspectives, new ideas on old/required messages and a great way to keep the momentum you created this year moving forward.

If you don’t feel like reinventing the wheel, there are free options you can download and put right to use. Check out those sites for some great resources. Or here’s a site that pulls 15 Life Changing Editorial Calendar Tools together in one place (https://writtent.com/blog/15-life-changing-editorial-calendar-tools/).

However, if you’d like to create your own, I used Excel to create my own. It’s easy to add too and easy to share.

Here’s how I work mine:

edcalendar

You’ll see it’s a grid system with each month highlighted down the left-hand side. Across the top, I tried to identify ever channel of communication including social accounts, newsletters, events, website, video, and more. I include content ideas, deadlines, assignment information, and yearly events. There’s even a place at the bottom where I can add notes for next year as things come up during the year or ideas occur. The visual reminder of what’s due when is great for me. I also like that it allows me to see upcoming items and plan time to fit them in the work schedule.

A great tip for building out your first calendar, is take an old planner and go ahead and drop in dates/months of annual events and any special celebrations that matter to your organization. Pull out a couple of years of past newsletters or magazines and see if there are topics you generally cover every year at a specified time. Add those and you’ll be off to a great start.

Editorial calendars are a benefit because they allow for effective planning. They are adaptable and allow you to drop in items that crop up unexpectedly. They provide a checklist so that you make sure each of your audiences are hearing a message through a channel that reaches them best. An editorial calendar is a smart way to make sure you are meeting strategic communications goals without missing a key element. By planning ahead, you are ensuring that you stay on task and on message.

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