The Essentials of an Editorial Calendar

Oct 24, 2016

Anyone engaged in content marketing or content production probably owns a robust editorial calendar. A calendar that is quickly updated, helps keep deadlines and is flexible can serve as a helpful blueprint of your content activities for the year.

At USAGov we cover a lot of topics and partner with many agencies. Having an editorial calendar has helped us in a variety of ways, from staying on top of deadlines and deliverables, to giving us the space to focus on the topics that resonate best with our audiences.

Screenshot of the USAGov editorial calendar.

How We Populate Our Calendar

The USAGov team has a lot of ideas and many partners to work with. Across our group we have content managers who follow specific topics and build partnerships among specific initiatives and contact center points of contacts who routinely share frequently asked questions. Anyone can submit a campaign idea through our Google Form, which asks the following:

  1. What is your idea?
  2. When will this promotion take place?
  3. Who is the target audience?
  4. What language is this promotion in? English? Spanish? Both?
  5. What website(s) will this promotion impact?
  6. What support will be needed?
    • Social media
    • Email
    • Syndication wire
    • Media outreach
    • Partner outreach
    • Graphics/multimedia support
    • Technical support
    • Metrics support
    • Other
  7. Who is submitting this idea?
  8. Any other info we should know about this idea? (Helpful links, commitments to agencies, etc)

How Ideas Turn Into Campaigns

These ideas populate a spreadsheet which the marketing team routinely looks at and discusses. We try not to have more than two or three large campaigns a month, though we do leave room for emerging topics or requests from partners or other stakeholders.

Editorial calendars are a great way to keep the team focused and organized. They also serve as great reminders of activities taking place, and keep everyone apprised of projects each month. Our editorial calendar also helps connect national observances and natural ties to other agencies’ content dissemination efforts.

How We Manage a Swelling Calendar

Editorial calendars can have as little or as much detail as you think you need. But generally, it is much more manageable to include fewer details and to avoid having information that’s out of date, especially in fast-paced environment where aspects of campaigns are being tweaked or have many moving pieces. This is more aimed at a bird’s eye view of what’s coming, and what we’ve done. It isn’t designed to be a project workflow. While our editorial calendar updates are a bit of a manual process, we’ve realized that sometimes keeping things simple really is better. Anyone can update it, and anyone can include comments, questions, and other details.

Victoria Wales is the bilingual email marketing product lead at USAGov.