Appreciating the Functionality of an Editorial Calendar

By Tiffany E. Browne, Director

For many writers, journalists, freelancers, and marketing and public relations professionals, editorial calendars are lifelines. They’re well-crafted scheduling tools that map out content from concept to completion and from draft to publication. Audience-driven, they drive Hatcher’s communications and marketing campaigns on behalf of clients, particularly when it comes to earned media, social media planning, content development, or creative asset design. One thing’s for sure, you can’t deliver work without meeting deadlines, and you can’t do that without a strong editorial calendar.

While editorial calendars are common within the media landscape, they’re equally as beneficial to marketing and communications for outlining client strategies. Because they serve as a roadmap to a final destination, goal, or deliverable, editorial calendars contain more than simply dates and deadlines. Hatcher uses them to plan, budget, outline responsibilities, set important dates like client kickoff meetings and reviews, track performance, and make last-minute adjustments and optimizations. This one single document is the foundation for all our client work.

Editorial calendars have taken on greater importance in the digital age as well. Organizations plan and base an entire years’ worth of asset development and delivery schedules using them, particularly when it comes to developing social media content. They’re perfect for outlining monthly themes, commemorations, and even milestones to promote your client work and show their recognition of historic or notable events.

And that’s in addition to keeping us on track and prepared. Take a moment to think about how you plan your social media, blog, email marketing, and newsletter content or even your next big announcement. If you find that you develop digital content on a whim, you may need to consider putting together an editorial calendar.

With objectives and timelines in mind, your first step is to devise a plan but with careful consideration. You can’t pull content together without knowing the planned theme or concept, identifying the appropriate audience, and having a set deadline to meet and turn in your work. As you assess your goals and current messaging, you’ll find you can easily identify themes and content based on objectives, events, product launches, and strategic planning. Set timelines for each stage of content and creative asset development. Be sure there’s room for flexibility with the topics and dates, as news trends can change in the blink of an eye. Because it serves as a roadmap, the editorial calendar is a key tool for clients to follow internally, so combine them with digital or media toolkits that either share prepared content or outline themes and set dates.

While these handy guides are essential to planning content, editorial calendars are also used to measure performance goals. Depending on the level of expectation on content frequency, be it a press release, social media or blog post, or email marketing, your communications team can keep track of each stage of delivery. This helps in identifying where goals may have fallen short during a particular month or where they were met and may have exceeded expectations.

It’s important to keep in mind that an editorial calendar is a living document. You can easily adjust it throughout the year as your strategy and goals shift.

For many of you, September marks the end of a fiscal year. What better time than now to get started on planning your editorial year? An editorial calendar will enhance your communications and marketing strategy by providing content direction, production planning, and overall organization. It’s a tool that will keep you on track, on time, and on topic in your planning goals.