5 steps towards working with a successful content calendar
There is a world of difference between good intentions and a working, and successful, communication strategy. Start by walking through the following five steps and download an example of an efficient content calendar.
Your ambition is to produce and publish more original content, and you have a brand new newsroom with every functionality imaginable at your disposal. Congratulations! Now what? Is your content calendar up and running, or could you do with some extra advice?
1. Formulate a strategy
Communication is a means, not a goal. Who is your target audience and why would your content appeal to them? Which stories do you want to tell, and in what way do you want your readers to interact with you? A clear communications strategy gets everyone in your boat rowing in the same direction. Make sure your team is familiarized with guidelines regarding tone of voice, objectives, target audience et cetera.
Subsequently, you need to ensure you start publishing stories with a certain degree of regularity. More posts means more visitors. Producing columns or series can be of great help with this. A recurring theme, be it monthly or weekly, makes for much easier content planning. Series simplify the brainstorming process and are quickly recognized by your readers, who will eventually come back on their own initiative to look for them.
Recurring themes, be it monthly or weekly, really help to strengthen your content calendar and generate a nice flow to build on and get into a productive and creative zone.
2. Gather the right people
Writing engaging stories your readers will gladly tweet about, is not something any employee can ‘just do on the side.’ It takes skill to write and edit well, and to come up with the right subjects and angles. So make sure you gather the right mix of experts who are best at telling stories about your organization; professionals who can turn those stories into inspiring and engaging content.
3. Document your planning
This is where the content calendar comes in. Solid content planning is of vital importance to the success of your communications strategy. Plan as far ahead as possible and be as concrete and precise as you can be. What date do you want your post to be published? What will it be about, do you have a title yet? Who’s writing it, and in what format will you publish (e.g. interview, blog, infographic)? Who is in charge of editing and when is the deadline for the first draft?
To give an example of what we mean, we put together a dummy content calendar, for a fictional university. In addition to the previously mentioned elements, we also reserved a column for current status. By using conditional formatting in Excel, you can easily and automatically color in the individual cells, providing insight into your progress at a glance. We also included a second worksheet with an overview of all series and their respective frequencies.
4. Monitor your results
In the dummy content calendar, you’ll also find a column for the number of pageviews, which you can enter after a post has been online for some time. Naturally, you’ll also be using your standard tools for analyzing the results, but writing them down in your content calendar provides an extra level of oversight, instantly telling you which posts and series do better than others.
This could also be a column in which you apply conditional formatting. Green cells for successful posts, yellow cells for average ones, and red cells … no one will ever want to see a red cell next to their post, so this will actually work as a motivator for good content.
5. Keep evaluating
Do not forget to frequently evaluate your content calendar. Those columns and series can be mighty handy, but can also lead to slackness. Are there really more angles to be discussed after fifty editions, or has the series run its course? Is your column only in need of some more brand awareness, or does your audinece simply not find a piece interesting?
Related topic: How to make your newsroom newsworthy
Make sure you are just as critical about publication frequency, appointed editors, forms of storytelling, exact moments of publication et cetera. With a good strategy, the right team and a constantly evolving content calendar, your audience will grow steadily and significantly, and you will be using your newsroom exactly for what it is meant to do.
6. Extra tip!
The dummy content calendar is primarily meant to help you on your way. Every organization has its own objectives and KPI’s, and will therefore have its own content calendar. Meanwhile at PressPage, we are busy developing a fully integrated content calendar which our clients will be able to use within the PressPage Manager. More news about this will follow soon!
PressPage provides a SaaS PR platform with additional services for creation of advanced social newsrooms, virtual press centers and online media hubs. It enables brands to publish and distribute rich content, and provides direct insights into the results. PressPage empowers PR professionals by adding efficiency and effectiveness to their daily work routine.