Using Those Special Months on Your Editorial Calendar

Sherry Kirschenbaum

After the 10 Changes to Make in 2012 webinar, I received an email from Sherry Kirschenbaum about how her organization uses an editorial calendar to organize ideas for their newsletter and media pitches. I was so impressed with how Sherry was connecting such a diverse number of those “special months” to her organization’s mission and programs, that I asked her to show us how she does it. For more writing inspiration, be sure to sign up for our free monthly Writing Prompts email.  ~Kivi

Guest Post by Sherry Kirschenbaum, Media Manager at United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ

During her most recent (very excellent) webinar 10 Changes to Make in 2012, Kivi spoke about editorial calendars as a tool in media outreach. As senior writer/media manager at United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ (also known as UJC MetroWest), I am using the “mother” of all calendars, Chase’s Calendar of Events, to drive content for our monthly e-newsletter.

Some background: UJC MetroWest (which encompasses Essex, Morris, Sussex and northern Union counties in New Jersey) has been doing a monthly e-newsletter for the last several years. When I came on 15 months ago, the Chief Marketing Officer asked me to start thinking about a revamp to freshen things up.

Having successfully used editorial calendars in the past for both internal and external communications, I decided, among other changes, to look at Chase’s Calendar to see if there were enough commemorations throughout the year that dovetailed with our mission:

United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ stands at the center of a network of 24 partner agencies that support families in crisis; job search strategies for the unemployed; services for seniors, people of all ages with disabilities, and women in abusive relationships; Israel advocacy; formal and informal Jewish education; and experiences to ensure our Jewish future.

I occasionally needed to get a little creative, but in general, it has been a bonanza of ideas. It has also helped me to easily identify the most qualified person (in house or at one of our partner agencies) to write a 500-600 word piece that I am responsible for editing. An added bonus: our partner agencies really appreciate the opportunity to get free publicity.

The editorial calendar for the column, titled “Monthly Matters,” basically looks like this:

2011

October: National Financial Planning Month/National Disabilities Month. The executive director of Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest, the planned giving and endowment arm of UJC MetroWest, wrote an article about the long-term personal and financial impact of endowments.

November: National Long-Term Care Awareness Month/Family Care Givers Month. An article on eldercare mobility by our director of Eldercare Services ultimately resulted in a mention in an Associated Press article.

December: Spiritual Literacy. I turned to the director of Health and Healing at JCC MetroWest, a partner agency. Ultimately, however, an article on the mind/body connection was deferred.

2012

January: National Mentoring Month. The director of our Young Leadership Division wrote an article on youngish adult leaders mentoring young leaders.

February: Youth Leadership Month and Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month. This month we will have two articles, one focusing on the impact of our teen leadership programs and the other speaking to I AM ABLE, a brand-new advertising campaign in the local Jewish newspaper.

March: National Social Work Month. This article will be written by a social worker at Jewish Family Service of MetroWest, a partner agency. Content still undecided, although we are leaning towards the ongoing stress on middle-class families caused by economic downturn. (The recession may officially be over, but many people in MetroWest would say otherwise.)

April: Autism Awareness Month. A piece by a parent of a child with autism whose life has literally been transformed as a result of UJC MetroWest programs and services. This piece will also be pitched to secular and Jewish media outlets.

May: Jewish-American Heritage Month. The director of the Jewish Historical Society of MetroWest, a partner agency, will focus her piece on the history and accomplishments of Jews in the MetroWest area, going back to the early 1900s.

June: National Camping Month. The coordinator of our One Happy Camper initiative will address the benefits of Jewish camping in Jewish identity formation.

In regard to my media manager hat, breaking the year down like this is very helpful in determining pitches for the media. For example, I am also using the article about the “I am ABLE” campaign as part of a pitch to Jewish media regarding Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month; the piece about stress on the middle class due to the economy will be pitched to local secular media outlets.

Sherry S. Kirschenbaum is senior writer/media manager at United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ. She can be reached at (973) 929-3084 or skirschenbaum@ujcnj.org.