Editorial Calendars: 6 Steps to Continued Content

February 11, 2011: An editorial calendar ensures content that’s meaningful to the people you actually want to engage with: Learn some of the ways with this post

Editorial Calendar

Always a wise investment to offer value and quality to your customers, no? Content is no different.

Like all quality efforts, quality content requires preparation and planning. Following these 6 steps to create an editorial calendar will:

  • Eliminate headaches
  • End chasing down writers and
  • Forgo missed deadlines.

Step 1: Targeting and refining your audiences

Seems so basic to identify your customer/prospect attributes, right? The more specific you can be, the easier the subsequent editorial calendaring steps become, so don’t cheat. And there can be more than one answer.

Example For a law firm Designated Editor is working with, alternative audiences include: Realtors and cross-selling to current clients. For another Designated Editor client: Boat owners in New England, and later, beyond.

This is also a good time to consider strategic alliances and perhaps creating content designed specifically for those people who will refer business to you. Your editorial calendar help you keep that population in mind.

Step 2: Keywords help you stay true to your target audience

What do these people care about? What will make them stop and read – and ideally remember you? What information do you have that they don’t know but should. What types of information would be so valuable they would forward it to a colleague, mention it to a client?

Expand your keyword list to related terms and jargon that your target audience uses that could be synonymous with your keywords. What better way to build better relationships than using the language your customers use?

Step 3: Alerts & attention

Now that you’ve defined who you’re addressing and what they’re interested in, you need to pay attention. Setting up alerts, such as Google Alerts, with the keywords and related terms you’ve identified, is a key component to editorial calendaring.

If you’re watching and thinking about it, even minor reports or posts can feed your editorial calendar with trends and ideas you’d never think of.

Example A post about wheelchair ramp safety and liability stemmed from a story in the UK where a nurse sued her patient’s estate after sustaining an injury.

Step 4: Social media mining and monitoring

Scan Twitter for ideas. Browse LinkedIn & Facebook for keywords and trends.

  • What are your Facebook followers discussing?
  • Who’s posting questions on LinkedIn Answers? Can you help them out?
  • What hashtags do clients/targets use on Twitter?

Social media monitoring There are all sorts of tools out there (and will continue to be more), so I’m not going to recommend any. Ultimately, choosing monitoring tools comes down to budget. At Monitoring Social Media and Smart Content conferences, the semantic and monitoring experts say you still need human intervention to truly understand.

Step 5: Collaborate & circulate

Your shared calendar and idea file will keep the editorial calendar and content ideas flowing.

Pick a calendar tool and keep it content-only. Be sure to note: holidays, conferences, and important dates/events that you’d like to get a post out ahead of, or about.

Example With 21.9 million veterans in the U.S., Veterans Day is a key time for several of Designated Editor’s clients.

Then set up a spreadsheet or other shared document that is divided into keywords. When a team member has an idea, or something comes up in an alert, someone needs to jump in there and write a paragraph.

Step 6: Editorial roles and responsibilities

You’ll need to evaluate your staff on these roles, meaning quality execution is part of job performance. Ask for volunteers – or hire someone – and then determine:

  • Who decides what types of content will be where?
  • Who’s contributing, actually writing the content?
  • Who’s overseeing the process? Who will edit the content?

Just like knowing your keywords doesn’t do anything if you’re not creating content that includes them, an editorial calendar will not get your content posted. Someone ultimately needs to be chiefly responsible for ensuring the posts get posted, edited, and written.

Meaningful engagement is so rare: Thriving, quality content will distinguish you and your company

But remember, it takes time for the good word to get out … for things to sink in. So plan to give it 6 months or more of sustained, solid effort. By the time you reach month 6, you’ll have learned a lot, worked out numerous kinks, and uncovered new markets and audiences, which you’ll then incorporate and evolve into … your editorial calendar.

About Suzanne McDonald
Former Boston Globe journalist, Suzanne McDonald launched Designated Editor to connect clients with core audiences via web content, blogs, social media, and mobile. Designated Editor’s staff of journalists crafts content strategy and custom packages for a range of B2B and B2C clients. Designated Editor’s blog provides twice-weekly updates on the latest in search marketing, social media, and emerging tactics, featuring insights from South by Southwest Interactive, OMMA Social, and SEO experts from SEMPO and SEMNE.

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  • http://russelldavison.com Russell Davison

    Great article. The editorial calendar is a must nowadays. Additionally, your “Step 4: Social media mining and monitoring” is most important to me.

  • http://Blog.designatedEditor.com Suzanne McDonald

    Hi Russell,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment & share what you found most valuable. It’s amazing what you can learn when you have a compass to guide your direction. Otherwise, you’re simply drifting across oceans of content.

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