Episode 6: Using an Editorial Calendar for Thoughtful Content Planning (plus editorial calendar templates)
In this episode, we make the case for using an editorial calendar for content planning. It might take a little time on the front end, but it will be well worth your efforts. Having an editorial calendar will allow you to manage your communication flow, help you feel organized and most importantly, it will produce results.
Being an effective communicator requires good planning. No one wants to work in constant reaction mode. It’s exhausting and it also leaves too much room for error and missing strategic opportunities.
What is an Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar is a planning document that lays out what you will communicate, when, where, and how. It can also include who is in charge of creating content to keep you and your team organized.
As you begin to fill in your editorial calendar, you will begin to see months that are heavy with content and months that are lighter. You can use this info to make adjustments to ensure consistency in your communication. You don’t want to bombard people one month and then go silent for the entire next quarter. Rather you want to plan even and consistent touch points that increase awareness and strengthen relationships.
Build Your Editorial Calendar on a Good Foundation
You should build your editorial calendar on a strong foundation. Before you begin, be sure to have clearly identified and defined:
- Your target audiences—All this content you’re creating and organizing…who is it for? Identify all of your target audiences so you can be sure you are creating the content they need on a regular basis.
- Your communication goals and objectives—Why are you creating content in the first place? What is it meant to accomplish? Are you growing awareness? Changing attitudes? Inspiring action? Get clear on this so your content works for you.
- Upcoming dates, events and holidays relevant to your organization—When is your organization’s annual meeting or key fundraising event? Are you making a splash for Giving Tuesday this year? Are their other national holidays that relate to your work where you can contribute to the regional and national conversation? You don’t want to be a community foundation that misses the opportunity to celebrate Community Foundation Week or National Philanthropy Day.
Create the Right Editorial Calendar for Your Organization
An editorial calendar is not a one size fits all tool. It really depends on your needs and the size of your team. Begin by considering the level of detail that will be most useful to you as you implement the content on the calendar. There are a range of options—from a few columns on a spreadsheet to something quite robust with multiple tabs or sheets for each communication channel you use.
We are all about helpful tools that make your life easier. We’ve provided access to two templates below to get you started.
What Might Be Included on Your Editorial Calendar
For a basic editorial calendar you will likely include the following elements:
- Publish date
- Medium/communication channel (blog, podcast, email, social, etc.)
- Assets (photos, videos, logos)
- Related links
- Call to action
- Status/completed checkboxes
You can add extra value by adding columns for your results right in this spreadsheet. Tracking takes time, but it also allows you to see what’s working and report your successes to your leadership and board more easily.
Items you might track include:
- Press results with links
- Email opens and clicks on links
- Number of social likes, shares, comments
We like to add a separate tab or sheet for additional content topics. You can do a brain dump on this sheet of all the potential topics, ideas, donor/grantee/client stories you might want to share during the year. This acts as a holding place until they are scheduled. It’s always nice to have some evergreen stories you can use during slow times.
If you have a team dedicated to creating and managing content, you may need a more robust editorial calendar that provides separate tabs or sheets for each medium with a greater level of detail. These can all feed into a content overview sheet to help you manage activity.
Tools We Recommend for Editorial Calendars
- Airtable (our templates use Airtable)
- Google Sheets
Check out our templates to get started today:
- Basic Editorial Calendar for Nonprofits & Foundations (great for small nonprofits and foundations with a one-person or small communications team)
- Complete Editorial Calendar for Nonprofits & Foundations (this is ideal for a larger nonprofit or foundation with multiple team members working on communications).
Have a question or need help getting started? Let’s talk!