Why editorial calendars are essential in content marketing

November 22, 2016 2:00 pm

This post was first published on 18 July 2014.

There are some things you must avoid when producing content – whether that’s in a pure editorial context or for content marketing.

One thing is gaps. Blog posts that become increasingly infrequent or irregular, for example, or a sudden halt in the flow of articles on a website. Both are things that will lose a readership you’ve worked hard to build.

Another is timeliness and relevance – namely, failing to prepare enough good content in time for that big annual trade show in your industry maybe, or running winter stew recipes in a food magazine in July because you hadn’t planned ahead to get those summer salad and gazpacho recipes lined up.

It’s why editorial calendars are so important. In 15 years in the publishing industry I’ve used them in a variety of ways. Here are just three examples:

  • Consumer publishing – As editor of a monthly rock climbing magazine, the longer lead times for content (photography in particular) meant a 12-month calendar was essential to plan articles tied in with seasons (eg ice climbing in winter), gear review schedules, significant events and anniversaries and also in line with the varying monthly subscription gift promotions arranged by the marketing department. As well as helping keep my sanity, the calendar helped the advertising and marketing teams better target clients by being able to highlight upcoming editorial content that would be relevant to their brand.
  • B2B publishing – At an online B2B tech publication targeted at IT directors and chief information officers (CIOs) there wasn’t a traditional editorial calendar as such, partly because the daily content flow was very news-driven. But content was still planned – ranging from the daily news meeting (which allowed us to share and flag up what we were working on with sister publications both in the UK and around the world) to weekly or monthly editorial planning meetings around bigger ‘hero’ content such as interviews, features, special reports and campaigns. This editorial planning was also essential for developing relevant articles in the run up to, during or after big industry events or for doing online traffic audits.
  • Content marketing – In a content marketing context, I launch edited a high-end glossy quarterly magazine targeted at CIOs for a major technology vendor. The editorial calendar was important to bring together relevant topics, ensure a balanced spread of global coverage and tie in with the vendor’s events and campaigns. Our editorial team would bring a raft of ideas to a planning meeting with the vendor’s marketing team and we would agree on what the big themes for each issue over the coming year would be, which CIOs we would target for interviews and also discuss ideas for front cover photography.

There are clear benefits of using an editorial calendar. These include:

  • Helping to identify the right topics, themes, mix of content types (blogs, video, photos) and frequency of publishing. A good calendar will also highlight obvious gaps.
  • Planning around marketing activity, campaigns and industry events – and also ways to promote that content through other channels, such as social.
  • Helping to ensure consistency of the content in terms of tone, quality and frequency.

A quick search on Google will reveal dozens of good sources for every type of calendar you could need, whether it’s for a simple blogging programme or a more complex content strategy.

We’ll explore some of the details of how to build and use an editorial content calendar in a future blog post here (at least that’s what it says in my editorial calendar)…

*photo credit: photosteve101 via photopin cc

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