December 18, 2017
Comms Best Practices
/ by Annemaria Nicholson
With so many moving pieces and parts in your content and social media marketing strategy, it can be challenging to stay on top of it all. But with one key tool, you can not only plan your marketing approach far in advance but also take advantage of specific times of year when certain campaigns will thrive.
Welcome to the content calendar.
If you’re scratching your head because you only know of magazines and other publications using editorial calendars, you’re not alone. Many in PR are familiar with looking at a publication’s calendar to know what to pitch them in a timely manner.
However, given the rise in popularity of content marketing, marketers now find value in having an internal content calendar to stay organized with what they publish on their blogs, websites, press releases and social media.
Here’s why you should consider creating a content calendar for your company.
Click here, or, on the image at the end of the post to download your free content calendar template
When you lay out your content for 12 months (the way you can with our 2018 content calendar template featured at the bottom of this post), you get the big picture of what’s coming your way.
Say for example your company always exhibits at a major B2B services conference in May. Seeing this on your calendar, you can map out related content in the weeks leading up to the event. You could publish a post about your involvement with the conference or tweet that you will be holding a giveaway at your booth to drive foot traffic during the event.
If past analytics tell you that blog posts about staying organized do really well in September, you can mark down some possible titles to write in that month. If you have a new product coming out, plan your content around it.
The further out you plan, the more opportunities you can take advantage of.
Because every marketing and PR task is linked to overall goals for the department, or company, as a whole, building an editorial calendar can help you keep those goals in mind as you plan content.
You should also consider if you have the right software to help you achieve your goals. For most, having earned media and press release distribution campaigns all organized in the Cision Communications Cloud® can give the larger marketing team a great central campaign strategy to rally around. We do that at Cision — use our own insights and campaign tools to understand the market, craft and implement strategy and measure impact.
The next step is to map my content marketing calendar to what our audience wants to hear, what the product roadmap goals are and what the comms team is doing in the Comms Cloud™.
Pro Tip: the PR calendar can double as a content marketing calendar.
When you write content piecemeal, you sometimes can’t see the bigger picture of what you’ve written as easily as having it all laid out on a calendar. But because offering your audience a variety of types of content can help you reach more people, sketching out what you’ll publish in calendar form can be quite helpful.
You might decide that every week you’ll publish one long-form article on your blog, as well as one video and one roundup of various articles from your blog. Putting this on your calendar keeps you organized and keeps that content varied.
WIthout a content calendar, holidays tend to sneak up on you, don’t they? You’re scrambling to come up with a winter holiday content strategy the week of Thanksgiving, which may be too late.
An editorial calendar includes all holidays — big and small — that you might want to plan content around, making it easy to come up with topic ideas.
Now that you understand the benefit of having an editorial calendar, let’s look at a few best practices.
We’re publishing our editorial calendar for 2018 early to give you plenty of time to work on it for the new year. Even if you have blanks in the calendar, you can start out in January with a backbone of a plan for your 2018 content.
While it’s helpful to plan in advance, allow for tweaks throughout the year. You might release a new product mid-year, in which case you’d want to publish content around that release. Or an industry change might spur you to write a new whitepaper to educate your audience about this change.
Check-in with your calendar quarterly to make sure you’re still in line with what is scheduled to publish.
The more you look at analytics, the better you understand your audience and when they respond best to your content being published. If you’re reaching consumers, you might find that publishing content on the weekends gets lots of views, whereas a business audience may read your content during work hours. Your calendar should reflect this.
Also, if your audience is global, keep holidays and time zones in other countries in mind as you plan.
Beyond the traditional holidays, there are dozens of lesser-known holidays like Child Health Day and Read Across America Day that makes for great content marketing opportunities. Find the holidays that relate to your business and brainstorm content and social media ideas.
An editorial calendar is great for helping you match up your social media updates with the content you’re publishing, both on your blog and as resources like whitepapers and ebooks. For every newly published piece of content, make sure you have several social shares to promote it over the following days and weeks.
You may need to reach out beyond the borders of the marketing team to ensure that your calendar reflects everything going on in the company. Your sales team can clue you into important product updates and releases, and the executive team can share which industry events they’ll be attending that they want to be highlighted in content.
If you publish content under different executives’ names on your blog or on other sites, make sure to include those in your calendar as well.
Any tool that helps you stay organized is one worth investing a little time in to set up. Having an editorial calendar helps you streamline your content marketing efforts and reduces the stress of knowing what to publish when.
To get started with your own content calendar, simply download our editorial calendar template by clicking the image below.
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