Editorial calendars work. Our research in this year’s and last year’s Trends Reports makes that clear.
But I often hear from nonprofits who say their editorial calendars just don’t work. The urgent always overtakes the important, and the plan gets thrown out and never revisited to make way for all the other things that come up.
That’s not a problem with the editorial calendar; it’s a problem with the way the editorial calendar is used.
A good editorial planning process acknowledges this fact: You must simultaneously plan for and communicate your most important, strategic content AND make room for the urgent, timely content that will always pop up at the last minute. You really can find the balance!
The trick is building flexibility into your editorial process and the editorial calendar itself. How?
1. Use the editorial calendar rule of thirds.
When filling in your calendar, fill one third with original content and one third with repurposed content. Most of this should be on the “important and strategic content” side. Leave the last third open. That leaves space for the “urgent and timely content” that will always come up.
2. Hold regular editorial meetings.
Editorial meetings are where you make these adjustments, with your editorial calendar in hand. Don’t just agree to add something urgent to the schedule without seeing where it fits in (hopefully in that space you left open by following the rule of thirds). Discuss what might need to be moved. Have that discussion right there, as much as possible, when you do have to bump important or strategic content.
3. Emphasize planning as you transform your culture of communications.
In many organizations, it feels like it’s all urgent, and all important, all the time. Let’s be honest. It’s not.
Start by giving yourself just 10 minutes a day to think forward to next week or the week after, or even next month. What will be most important and strategic then, and what conversations can you have now to help ensure that content is protected from the urgent fires when the time comes?
If you want my help in setting up an editorial calendar and process that really works for your organization — and to get the bulk of that work done in just four weeks — consider joining us for Planning Your Communications: Mastering Your Editorial Calendar in 2018. This accelerator coaching program starts next Wednesday, February 14.