How to create an editorial calendar for brands

Impress your clients and the higher-ups with an editorial strategy common to magazines and newsrooms. It’s easy, and it can bring big results.

Maintaining a blog that does more than run press releases and product promos is hard. It boils down to tempting visitors to subscribe through great content.

You have to understand your target audience and write posts that connect their needs to your client’s product or service. You also you have to write a lot, especially if content marketing is a priority and your goal is one-to-three posts per week.

Many people simply conjure up a post idea when they’re ready to sit down and write—clients and PR pros alike—but there’s a better strategy that will amplify the level of your posts. It involves something you probably already work with on a regular basis—the editorial calendar.

For magazines, an editorial calendar is indispensable. It outlines the topics in each issue and their print schedule, telling PR professionals exactly when and what to pitch that magazine.

“As editor of a magazine with a very specific audience—commercial real estate—our editorial calendar is a great way to do long-range planning and solicit ideas from other sources,” said AZRE Editor Peter Madrid. “It also ensures I don’t write about a certain subject too often. If I write about something more than once, I track who I used as sources and make sure I ‘spread the wealth.'”

Apply the same magazine tactics to your blog. How does this thinking apply to a blog? It puts the same long-range planning and strategic thinking in place.

Plus, the very process kicks your brain into high gear. You’ll surprise yourself with the fantastic post ideas you come up with, and your client’s will notice the difference.

Consider what this can do for your client’s blog.

Magazines produce editorial calendars for a reason, right? And a blog has a lot in common with a magazine—for starters, they are both content publishing tools.

When you sit down with your client or account team to work out a blog editorial calendar, it forces you to think strategically, with purpose and intent. Without these things, your blog posts can be arbitrary and off the mark. There is nothing worse than investing a year into your client’s blog, only to find out it doesn’t resonate with its target audience and is failing to drive results. This can cost you a client.

10 questions for blog calendars.

As you draft your blog editorial calendar, consider these 10 questions:

1. Who is my audience?
2. What interests them?
3. What are other blogs in the same category or with the same target audience writing about?
4. What are the trade publications writing about, and what’s on their editorial calendar?
5. What industry news/posts are shared and retweeted the most?
6. What are my client’s competitors writing about?
7. What topics are tradeshows covering in their workshops and round tables?
8. What trends are your client’s seeing?
9. What types of articles interest your clients?
10. What pubs do your client’s read, and what are they writing about?

Have it. Follow it.

It doesn’t matter if your blog editorial calendar is a casual list of bullets, or more formal via a WordPress Plug-in or a fancy document from your graphic designer. The point is to have it and to follow it. And to have done a good job creating it, of course.

One last point: Content and social media both evolve quickly, so you’ll want to stay flexible and allow for changes. You never know when a hot trend will pop up to inspire you, or if you’ll need to kill an idea from the calendar.

Done right, a blog editorial calendar cements your strategy and simplifies things enormously. Speaking from experience, it’s much easier to sit down and write a post when the headline is already chosen, instead of sitting down with a blank brain and trying to generate brilliance. It also makes it easy to write posts that hit your different blog categories, so the content is well rounded.

It keeps your interest high, it helps you avoid being burned out with no ideas on what to post, and it can take those posts from blah to incredible with only a few hours of effort.

Want to learn how companies like NASCAR drive engagement with content marketing? Find out about Ragan’s Content Marketing Summit by clicking here.

Carrie Morgan is a 20-plus year public relations veteran based in Phoenix, specializing in digital PR.

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