12 Planning Strategies To Keep Your Editorial Calendar On Track

Creating content has quickly become one of the core activities for most brands’ marketing teams. Blog posts, social media, videos and other assets serve to establish a company’s expertise while building trust and interest with their current and potential customer base.

As the demand for unique, original content continues to grow, the best way to keep up is a solid, well-organized editorial calendar. Whether it’s a simple spreadsheet or a formal project management tool, planning out your content in advance can help you stay on top of long-lead deadlines for “evergreen” pieces. Here’s how 12 Forbes Agency Council members recommend preparing for those deadlines on your editorial calendar.

Members of the Forbes Agency Council offer their best tips.IMAGES COURTESY OF FAC MEMBERS.

1. Build A Strong Backbone, But Leave Room For Flexibility

Start by brainstorming a list of most asked questions. This should be the backbone of your content. Strong content answers questions people are searching for and will draw them to you as the expert answering their questions. Make room in your calendar for flexibility to pivot with pop culture and industry breakthroughs. The top priority is to bulk up your calendar by scheduling strong content. – Katie HarrisSpot On Solutions

2. Get Specific

Staying on top of your editorial calendar is a key component to content marketing success. Create content topic lists, assign internal content and topic ownership, and include specific publish dates on the calendar that aren’t just rough estimates and that targets a specific target audience. Be specific. – Timothy NicholsExactDrive, Inc

3. Plan A Timeline That Covers Every Phase Of Your Campaign

Start out with the date range you need to go “live” with the campaign. Back out from there to plan for all phases of the campaign and parallel developments that include other departments/dependencies. Give yourself extra days if there are any review phases from third parties. Finally, publish your calendar to all parties and make sure there is agreement and accountability to adhere to deadlines. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castrohawthornedirect.com

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4. Create A ‘Dream’ Calendar And A ‘Necessity’ Calendar

Many times, brands start by creating their dream content calendar, with lots of new content being generated constantly. That’s great, but there needs to be another calendar that defines which of those deadlines and pieces of content are absolutely necessary for a campaign to work. Then, start by making sure you make everything on the “necessity” calendar, and if there is more time, do the rest. – Rafael RomisWeberous Web Design

5. Engage Influencers

It’s a fact of business: brands get busy. If the team isn’t able to churn out enough quality content on a consistent basis to fill an editorial calendar, engage influencers to produce high-quality (and authentic) content to repurpose on your brand’s social channels. – Danielle WileySway Group

6. Have A Defined Editorial Process For Responding To Timely Events

Editorial calendars are tedious and out of date the minute they are written. A defined editorial process, however, gives you the flexibility to create content in the moment, reacting to or even initiating timely conversations. A focus on process and speed will let you plan for spontaneity. – Jerrid GrimmPressboard

7. Track Short- And Long-Lead Deadlines In A Well-Organized Spreadsheet

Spreadsheets are key and also a great visual representation of the timeline and content that needs to be prepared and published in time for editorially relevant milestones like company launches, holidays or seasons. Focus on overlapping content angles so that your content stays fresh and you are addressing both short- and long-lead deadlines simultaneously. – Sara ShakeMad

8. Repurpose All Content

Users consume content differently on all platforms. Focus on creating evergreen content that can be repurposed and added to over time. Be sure to distribute that content throughout all social media platforms. As you learn to leverage the distribution of your media, you will see it is easier for you to fill in your editorial calendar. – Breynan HammonsInnvio

9. Share The Process

Content creation should be shared, not siloed. Involve multiple people by creating a process and having stages in place. Having deadlines to pass the project to others for editing, proofreading and design help keep the author on track and accountable. This helps keep larger projects, like whitepapers, on track and moving forward, rather than waiting on one person. – Nicole MahoneyBreak the Ice Media

10. Plan, Measure And Refine

The most successful content marketing efforts start with a strong strategy, careful planning and are hyper-focused on your buyer persona. Invest time to be thoughtful upfront, and map specific content types, themes and placement for the full year at once. At the beginning of each new quarter, review the performance to date and refine your content planned for the rest of the year accordingly. – Keri WitmanCleriti

11. Diversify Your Subject Matter Expertise 

Implement strategic plans for long-lead cadence and themes to ensure each post serves a purpose. Whether it’s entering the conversation around a holiday or making sure you’re diversifying subject matter, being able to see the road ahead is key to measure success and audience interaction. Line up executives in advance for appropriate thought leadership to grow value and awareness. – Scott KellnerGPJ Experience Marketing

12. Understand Your Overall Editorial Philosophy

While content marketing is powerful for brands, too many companies focus their attention on the form factor of publishing and not enough on their overarching philosophy. If you know the philosophy or ideology you want to share, you can look for events and opportunities that enable you to instantiate your philosophy. This will allow you to create content that’s more authentic and valuable. – Hamid GhanadanLINUS

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