With everything else going on to support and retain members, do you really need yet another resource tool or tracking document to fret over in your department? It’s easy to fall into this planning trap, with endless to-do lists and iterative meetings while the day-to-day tasks pile up, but your organization’s membership and engagement are at stake. Whether you ascribe to intricate Excel spreadsheets with drop-downs and pivot tables, or you’re comfortable manually checking off items from your desk or wall calendar, an editorial or content calendar can bring order out of chaotic content strategy.
The editorial calendar is not a new idea. But like any habit-forming process, it can be easy to procrastinate and push to the bottom of your organizational planning. Divvy up your new calendar habit into sections: what, how and when you’ll use it.
The format of your calendar is up to individual tastes. As a life-long writer of to-do lists, I naturally gravitate towards the elegant numbered and bulleted phrases filled on lined paper. From groceries to life goals, I like to list things out and cross them off when completed. This means my calendar preference is a straight forward Excel spreadsheet with some drop-down list options. My favorite drop-downs include content items (from emails to articles and everything in between), intended audiences and contributors.
Perhaps yours is an integrated campaign calendar through HubSpot or WordPress—to each their own format. Explore a few different platforms before you commit—hopefully this is a planning resource that you will refer to daily/weekly/monthly, and you want to make sure it melds with the cadence of your work style and that of your department.
If you’re already working to improve engagement, gamification tactics and repurposing content for your organization, then you know there are plenty of resources to go around. Figure out the best way to categorize all of them. Perhaps you separate your content by individual items, such as emails, blogs and new member resources. Another option is segmenting your calendar based on your organization’s events and meetings schedule. For example, if your annual meeting is in the spring and you want to start hosting more webinars, then your calendar’s baseline can be that meeting. Work to space out potential webinars and fill in the remaining gaps around that primary goal.
Accountability will be the glue that holds your editorial calendar together throughout the year. Checking in on your own and your team’s progress can be based on other content or engagement tactics you already have employed. Does your social media strategy include a schedule for posts, tweets and replies? Do you have a private online community where members are engaging in daily or weekly discussions and event planning? There’s no need to schedule more meetings if you are already strategizing with the best of them—incorporate your new calendar into the fold of membership, social media and community engagement. Use those preexisting benchmarks as a way to stay on top of the bigger picture, and check off both short and long term items from your new tool.
Spend some time outlining your organization’s function, format and follow-up processes for your editorial calendar. It will give new and repurposed content a home, and provide you and your department with a big picture plan for the beneficial resources that are ready and waiting to be shared.