Content Marketing: The Cliff Notes Approach to Editorial Calendars

9 Tactics To Create Content on Two Week Schedule

Derived from traditional print magazines and newspapers, an editorial calendar provides the organizational structure for content marketing. Editorial calendars can encompass your entire marketing plan or be specific to content marketing, social media and/or your blog.

To be done well, editorial calendars require time to assess the content you’ve composed to-date and tools to measure its effectiveness. These enable you to assess where you need content and what information resonates with your readers. From there, you can determine your content goals and create marketing personas and social media personas to guide your efforts before you dive into developing your editorial calendar.

The challenge, especially for marketers who need to sell the idea of content marketing into their organizations, is that working with longer time frames and milestones means expending time and political capital to persuade colleagues and bosses. The solution is to use a rolling two week editorial calendar instead of thinking ahead in terms of months, quarters and years.

As one attendee at my “Content Marketing Meets Social Media” keynote at the PRSA-Hampton Roads Chapter said, “I can incorporate a two week plan into my existing department meetings instead of trying to organize another set of meetings to get management buy-in regarding content marketing.” Working with a shorter time window changes the dynamic from “Should we do content marketing?” to “What will we develop in the next two weeks?” The bottom line is that once you start creating content, you’ll get proof that it works. [Check out Why Content Marketing is More Cost Effective Than Digital Advertising?]

Understand that a short-term content marketing planning tool tends to be tactical rather than strategic. This is less of an issue if you have an established marketing plan you can use as your overall framework.

What do you need for an effective abbreviated editorial calendar?

  1. Start with a set of seasonal events, significant content projects and related promotions. This information should already exist in your marketing plans. Use it. Remember your goal is to streamline your calendar process.
  2. Brainstorm regular columns or features. These articles can include current news in your category, how-tos, and customer of the week profiles. If you’re at a loss for ideas, answer customer questions since this information helps attract leads and close sales. (Bear in mind that blogging two answers a week yields fifty posts within six months.)
  3. Determine specifics. Craft column titles and assign each column a specific publication day within your two-week period.
  4. Add one-off articles on trending topics.  Use the short time frame to your advantage by focusing on evolving points of interest for your audience.
  5. Incorporate other content formats. Each piece should contain more than just text. Think photographs, video, audio, infographics and presentations. At a minimum, include a relevant image as eye-candy for your article. Use Flickr or other free resources to get good images.
  6. Optimize content for appropriate search terms. Focus each piece of content on one keyword phrase and include it in your title. Also, use one internal link and one external link.
  7. Provide regular email newsletters. At a minimum, provide links and short blurbs to entice readers to check out your other content. Go one step further and provide a short piece of new content and an engaging image.
  8. Plan for related social media engagement with your content. Distribute your content across appropriate social media platforms. If you have the resources, it’s better to hand craft your shares. Also, integrate social sharing into your content publications.
  9. Schedule related social media engagement. Go beyond just sharing your content on social media. Also, curate other people’s content with links and comments and engage in real time.

Having a rolling two week editorial calendar has the benefit of being flexible enough to adapt to evolving changes whether they’re in the environment or within your organization.

How do you plan your content marketing? Do you use an editorial calendar? If so, what’s your time horizon?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cambodia4kidsorg/197325980/

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  • http://www.jeremyfloyd.com Jeremy Floyd

    How relevant do you think #6 is to an effective plan? One or two years ago, I would agree 100%, but as the Google continues to tweak the algorithm, I am curious how much SEO can be an objective. It almost seems that the other eight steps are community optimization…

    Just curious as to your thoughts.

    • http://twitter.com/heidicohen HeidiCohen

      Jeremy–

      These nine tactics focus on creating content that attracts the maximum audience possible for each piece of content. This is the objective of most marketing whether its content, social media or advertising.

      While Google will continue to tweak their search algorithms, one search optimization solution is to consistently create strong content where each piece is focused on one keyword and other aspects of the content are optimized for search. This is a core reason to use content marketing and contributes to making it cost efficient.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • Michael Cann

    Thanks for your post Heidi. I agree that creating and maintaining a content calendar is an effective way of offering diverse content continuously. However, I think you highlighted two key issues in points 8 and 9 that make it difficult for businesses to execute this strategy on a continuous basis: available resources and access to diverse high quality content.

    Historically, I have found that most businesses (and myself frankly) do not have the resources or time to continuously create or discover high quality content which drives engagement. If more businesses had access to a pool of content ideas, creating and leveraging a content calendar would be far easier.

    At Sparqd we believe the greatest challenge to a business’ success when
    marketing through social media is access to a steady stream of engaging
    content and ideas. By making it easier for businesses to discover, access and then publish high quality content, the use of a rolling content calendar becomes much more feasible. Thanks again!

  • tomcross

    Heidi, how do I get approval to use this in my sm class?
    Thanks, TC