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Trends in 2011 editorial calendars

Trends in 2011 editorial calendarsOctober 29: Every year, more calendars are available in a PDF format either as a standalone or supported by a hyperlink on the magazine’s website. This might sound like old news, and it is for some magazines that have been doing this for five years. It’s just that the sheer volume of calendars available online now has grown tremendously over the last year. Googling “2011 Editorial Calendar” brings about 2,170,000 results.

Such a large number sounds appealing, but some of those calendars provide nothing more than issue closing dates (The Atlantic). Additionally, some of the most highly desired magazines don’t produce these calendars at all (Consumer Reports, Money Advisor, Consumer Digest) – or will only provide them to current advertisers in order to keep their future content plans confidential. It’s worth noting that we only refer to magazines when discussing editorial calendars, or “ed cals” for short. Some newspapers may produce a calendar that features a list of their monthly or annual sections. However, those sections are traditionally seasonal (e.g., a wedding section in the spring or an automobile section in the fall) and do not break from the existing coverage in the main sections of the newspaper.

The layout and design of editorial calendars can vary wildly. We’ve noticed that the more frequently the magazine is published, the less graphic appeal it has. This is probably due to the fact that there’s more information that needs to be crammed into as few pages as possible. Take for example ESPN Magazine: the biweekly magazine’s ed cal is really just a grid of issue dates, on sale dates, ad close dates and premium close dates, as well as one sentence descriptions of themes for that issue. One notable addition to this calendar for 2011 is the column for IPAD/IPHONE releases. For example, the March App will include the March 7 and March 21 issues.

Three of the most well-designed calendars we’ve seen so far this year include Travel + Leisure (to be honest, this one looks great every year), Good Housekeeping and Better Homes & Gardens. Travel + Leisure has 12 horizontal photos on one page, each with a short blurb about the featured editorial and two dates, close date and on sale date. It doesn’t hurt that each photo is visually stunning. It also notes that for each iPad edition, “Your message can be amplified by slide shows, videos + more.” While that message is meant for advertisers, freelance writers and public relations professionals should consider it as well.

While the bulk of the calendars are ready during end of October and middle of November, we’ve already collected them from many of the top tier magazines:

Advertising Age, All You, Athlon Sports, Better Homes and Gardens, Bon Appétit, Brides, Condé Nast Traveler, Country Living, Daily Variety, Details, Ebony, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN The Magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Fast Company, Fitness, Food & Wine, Food Network Magazine, Forbes Life, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, Industry Week, Jet, The Journal of Commerce, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Ladies’ Home Journal, Los Angeles Times Magazine: LA, Macworld, More, The New York Times Magazine, Parents, Real Simple, Redbook, Rolling Stone, Seventeen, Shape Magazine, Southern Living, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Washington Post Magazine and Weekend Magazine.

Since adding apps and digital editions can tax a magazine’s production schedule, it will be interesting to see how these dates fluctuate over the coming years as more print editions evolve.

–Rebecca Bredholt

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