4 ways to shape up your brand’s editorial calendar

Your thoughtfully planned agenda need not lock you into stagnancy. Rather, it can give you a framework for balancing audience favorites with spontaneity.

Effective marketers often think of themselves as content creation machines. Our editorial calendars guide the machine through the days and months of each year.

So, how is your machine’s engine running? If your brand’s editorial calendar needs some attention, don’t wait until next month, or even next week. Now is a good time to get your hands dirty and get the work done.

If you don’t have an editorial calendar for your brand, use these tips to start from scratch. All brand managers looking to produce and distribute newsworthy, high-quality content need an editorial calendar. This provides a roadmap and timeline for the creation of content.

Download the free white paper, “How to be a brand journalist,” to learn how to tell your organization’s compelling stories.

Before setting up your editorial calendar, identify the desired results for your brand’s public relations initiatives and storytelling. This will help you develop a strategic roadmap.

Where do I begin?

Every editorial calendar should be built around your brand’s target audience. Has your audience changed since your last calendar update? Once you know whom you are trying to reach, then you can pinpoint the topics that resonate with them.

If you’re unsure how to identify your target demographic, find the editorial calendar from a news media outlet that might cover your brand. Use it as a guideline. For example, if you’re a communicator for a children’s hospital, find an editorial calendar from a publication such as Parents magazine. When you study its news priorities, you’ll probably get ideas for what to include in your own timetable.

What are the best topics?

When developing topics, focus on your audience’s lifestyle, not your brand’s needs. Never allow your company’s product rollout schedule to dictate your editorial calendar. Instead, select topics that seamlessly combine your organization’s expertise with your audience’s interests.

Stay on top of hot topics by newsjacking and jumping on seasonal stories. Newsjacking is the act of redirecting the momentum from breaking news into your brand’s favor by injecting a fresh perspective in real time.

It’s a strategic and aggressive way to get major buzz for your brand. Incorporate it into your editorial calendar by identifying upcoming events so you can be part of the conversation.

How often should I create content?

Two things should determine the frequency of your content: When your audience is most receptive to the content, and your brand’s capabilities for creating it.

How often are you creating content right now? Evaluate the results.

Are you meeting your brand’s goals? If not, don’t simply assume that more content is needed.

Delve into the analytics to decide whether the better course of action is creating material more frequently or producing a different kind of content.

When can I hit delete?

Once you have a working editorial calendar, the thought of dumping old ideas can be scary. One alternative to immediately hitting the delete button is creating a separate area of your editorial calendar for inactive story topics.

If a topic has been on the calendar for a while with no signs of moving forward, move the topic to the “inactive” area of your radar screen. Revisit the sluggish topics every few months. If they continue to be stagnant, then you can hit delete with confidence.

Lisa Arledge Powell is president of MediaSource, a public relations firm that specializes in brand journalism. MediaSource has been named Best Health Care Agency in both 2013 and 2014 in Ragan’s Health Care PR & Marketing Awards. Connect on Twitter: @LisaArledge.

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