Editorial calendars are significant tools to help brands and PR pros organize and plan their content, but they’re not only useful for internal planning. Following an editorial calendar can also help you know when you should pitch various content to the media. But what is an editorial calendar and how exactly can brands use one?
An editorial calendar is a content calendar that helps organize and plan for publication. Media outlets use editorial calendars to keep track of what is going in which issue or which pieces are going live on its website on a given day, which is why it’s important for brands and anyone else hoping to land earned media coverage to adhere to a similar sort of calendar to ensure that you don’t find yourself pitching things from which writers have already moved on.
Editorial calendars allow a communications team, PR pro, or content and marketing team to plan out content in advance and take a more strategic approach to their work. Because media outlets move faster than the rest of us, you’ll need to keep in mind that your editorial calendar for media relations and pitching should be forward-looking, rather than focusing on current events, while your social media and other content calendars will likely focus on more timely topics. A good rule of thumb, when working on media pitches, is to think 6-8 weeks ahead, but media timelines can vary, so building relationships with journalists can also help you make sure you’re sending them what they need when they need it.
Why & how to use an editorial calendar
There are several benefits to using an editorial calendar for planning your content. From the organizational aspects to strategy, collaboration, and more, here are a few reasons why you might want to consider using one if you don’t already:
They keep you consistent
Editorial calendars are key when you’re working on ensuring that you’re posting or publishing content consistently. You’ll be able to see everything you have planned, so you’ll be able to spot a hole in the calendar more easily. Plus, consistent posting is critical for both social engagement and SEO, so keeping yourself on a schedule can really maximize your efforts.
They keep you organized
Naturally, calendars are great organizing tools. An editorial calendar not only lets you plan out what’s going to happen when, but also allows you to keep track of where you are in the process. Has the content been created? Does it need editing or a visual component? Is there anything else that needs to be done before it’s ready to post? Track all of that within your calendar so you don’t have to rely on just remembering where the content stands.
They help facilitate collaboration and teamwork
If you’re not the only one working on content, a calendar becomes even more essential. Because you’ll be able to organize everything in one shared place, your team members will also be able to keep up to date with everything, making it easier and more efficient for everyone to do their part and know what’s happening when.
They help with strategy
Because you’re planning things ahead of time, you’ll be able to better and more strategically design your content to fit your goals, whether they’re marketing and sales goals, audience goals, or something else.
They help with tracking
You know that you can use editorial calendars to track where a piece of content is in the creation process, but you can also use your calendar to track how that piece of content performs over time, after it’s been shared. Did an email or Instagram post do much worse than usual? Take a look at what you did differently so that you can pivot to content that will hopefully perform much better.
They help you keep up with media timelines
Many outlets share general calendar plans online, but even if the one you’re hoping to pitch doesn’t, you’ll still be able to keep up with them if you think ahead. Plan to start pitching 6-8 weeks ahead of time (longer for big winter holiday gift guides) and don’t be afraid to follow up. Being early is better than being far too late. Press Hook’s editorial calendar, located in the brand dashboard, can help you figure out when you should start pitching for a given holiday. Your internal calendar can help you keep track of it all.
Editorial calendars help streamline your content strategy, making it more effective. You can use a simple spreadsheet as your calendar, or incorporate a free or low-cost tool like Asana or Trello to build out something that’s more interactive. No matter what you use to build your calendar, putting it to use can help you step up your content marketing efforts and set you up for sustained success.
Need help setting up your editorial calendar or brainstorming ways to fill it? Schedule an Office Hours call with the Press Hook team to learn more.