Fast-forward a week later.
"Hey... do you remember when we talked about that whole blogging idea? How do you do that exactly? What should we talk about? How often?" These are seemingly simple questions without simple answers.
In an older post unfortunately titled "Get involved in the conversation" (something I often criticize brands and organizations for saying... it's way over-used and likely was when I used it as well) I talk about how important it is to MAKE the time to blog/communicate online, as well as listen to what's being said about your brand as a means of informing what it is you should be saying yourself. The proliferation of all kinds of digital communication in the past year alone changes how we play the game.
Goals: Why are you blogging? To garner more brand awareness? More traffic to a particular service you provide? Value add? Thought leadership? Whatever the goal(s), make sure that you keep key objectives top-of-mind when you develop your calendar. Just like any magazine, you have to ensure you're addressing the needs and interests of your audience so even if your goals are self-serving (traffic, promotion, etc.) make sure that you are not only transparent in that effort, but that you aren't just pumping out sales pitches. Advertorials don't work in the blogosphere IMO.
Once you've established your goals and objectives, the key is organization and consistency. Easily said, but not easily done, even (perhaps especially?) by those of us who preach planning your communications. That said, in an age where anyone can be/is a publisher, you have to develop an editorial strategy and calendar to ensure you are consistent in how you address your audience and how you represent your brand. Does this "story" reflect our views/values/mission statement, etc? Is it timely? Does our audience care? Why should they care? What kind of sources are we going to use? What is the goal of the piece? Are we pointing our audience back to a particular section of our website, a landing page, or another valued source of information? Who is going to write it?
Transparency and clarity are also important. Make sure your audience knows what they're going to get when they arrive at your site. Is this a marketing site? Are you trying to sell me something? Perhaps you can be even more granular: On Mondays readers will find my favourite places to get coffee, Tuesdays are for writing tips, Wednesdays are for sharing other interesting resources, and so on...
Frequency is difficult, but only if you over think it! Keep it simple. Start out by answering this question: Do we have something to say? If so, how often do we think our views on [insert category here] can be kept fresh and relevant? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Do we have the resources to keep up with those expectations?
Once those issues have been addressed, create an actual calendar. Even if you're only going to be publishing something quarterly, it's important to develop a calendar that outlines:
- Target publication date
- Theme (quarterly, monthly, weekly, etc.)
- Channel (via your blog alone, or will you push/contextualize the content via other tools like Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, etc.)
- Status (In production, pending review, being edited, published, on hold, etc.)
- Assets required (Are you pointing to a particular landing page? Section of your site? Is there anything to download? Images? Source materials?)
- Call to action (What are you asking readers to do once they've read your editorial? There doesn't ALWAYS have to be a CTA, but in order to foster dialogue and meet your objectives it makes sense to try and engage the reader in some way, even if it's just to say "what are your thoughts on this article? Please comment below!")
- Actual publication date (As we all know, "target" versus "actual" are very different. Don't beat yourself up for missing a deadline, but try to be as consistent as possible)
Once you've put all this material together, make sure you also include a dissemination strategy. Just like a press release, you need to let your audience/readers/customers/whomever know that you've said something new. They (likely) don't come back to your site every day to make sure you have or haven't come up with new words of wisdom, so you market the material. Decide which tools you want to use to promote and, in many cases, contextualize your editorial. Email campaigns and Twitter are great for pushing out your message, but ensure you're letting people know why they should be interested. "(Digital) Editorial Calendars" may not be the hook many of my readers are going to be drawn in by, so using a well-worded tweet to contextualize and perhaps highlight the content can be very helpful in garnering more eyeballs.
If you get into the habit of thinking about your blog(s) in this manner, it will become much easier to not only develop content/ideas, but also determine when would be the best time(s) to publish. Finally, try to pay attention to what other people are talking about. "Monitoring" or listening is an entirely different post, however once you start pushing your words into the digital space it is important to track the conversations themselves (perhaps they'll travel to other blogs or channels like LinkedIn and Twitter?), as well as like-minded subject matter to make sure you're staying current and addressing what it is your readers and potential audience members are interested in.