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Editorial Calendars: The Kinder, Gentler Way

Starting an editorial calendarDeveloping an editorial calendar can feel like forcing yourself out of bed for your morning jog or going to the DMV. You know it’s important and will benefit you in the long run, but it’s hard to muster the enthusiasm for it.

Having an editorial calendar to guide your messaging means you’re on your way to establishing a consistent voice within your company. It also keeps you accountable, knowing you need to keep certain deliverables moving. The good news is you don’t have to build it alone. B2B marketing managers and writers/editors need to have their hands in the pot when it comes to researching and planning content. That way they can better analyze results and tweak material to create even better content in the future.

Achieving positive end-results depends a great deal on the timeliness and the quality of information and resources you receive near the start of the editorial process. But you don’t have to search out this info alone. Your staff can be your best and most accessible resource. Many of your colleagues may not be marketing pros or think of themselves as “managing editors.” But there’s compelling content waiting to be thought up with their input.

Here are three tips for promoting long-term success and collaboration at the start of your editorial calendar process.

1) Start the Conversation.

The mere mention of “editorial calendar” could drop like a stress bomb on your colleagues. So lob them a softball instead. Start asking your staff to brainstorm ideas on content you could create. Make it casual and fun. Ask about their recent successes with their team and what their plans are for the next year. Often this will lead to some creative ideas.

2) Test the Waters.

I won’t tell you that the folks from step one will do all your work for you. (And, yes, you’ll probably have to follow up by email or phone to remind some of them you need their info.) You, too, have some sleuthing to do. Begin by doing some searches for your company’s major product and service names. Then go to the website and social pages in the results to see how the content renders. Is it timely? Are the formats (banner, photo galleries, video, etc.) suited to the marketing goals of your organization? Does your gut tell you that there is good content out there but that it may be getting distributed on the wrong social platforms?  Take some notes about your observations so you can remember to ask for such things from your colleagues as the calendar takes shape.

3) Relax: Time Is on Everyone’s Side.

Internally, B2B social media is in some sense a race against time. Externally, however, keeping up with partners and staying ahead of the competitors’ offerings means your collaborators will need enough time to think about what you have asked them in step one. Plus, they will have to rope in other social media experts and managers to confirm the specifics of product/service release dates and announcements to make up the useful and valuable content in your editorial calendar.

If you do these three things, you will have a much greater chance of drawing out the “good stuff” from gatekeepers and stakeholders. By making their collaboration less daunting, you’ll remove barriers and increase the chance of a free-flow of timely and vivid material. Then you can mold this all into engaging online content, draw in new audiences, and gain momentum for the future.

Derek Scheips, a Kitterman Marketing senior copywriting consultant, has advised companies such as Microsoft, CIGNA, DuPont and Condé Nast on B2B marketing and editorial planning and execution.

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