One of the more challenging topics that I often discuss with clients is the concept of having an editorial calendar or publishing schedule. The idea is that you know in advance on a particular day, week or month what topic or topics you’re going to be talking about through your online platform, including your business blog. When you know the topic in advance, you have an opportunity to plan everything and guide the conversations in directions that you intend.
For instance, suppose that next month you decided to focus on one specific service that you offer. In preparation, you might have a couple blog posts written that talk about some nuance of that service or the issue it helps resolve. You might prepare a couple of case studies where you stepped in to help a client and this particular service was key. You could look for articles and stories from other sources and have those queued up to share to social media, as well as any old blog posts of your own that are on topic. And you could have additional posts, questions and images ready to share to your social networks, all related in some way to this topic.
By the end of the month, you would have shared quite a bit of information on that topic, and hopefully started some great conversations with fans and followers, clients and potential clients alike.
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In political campaigns we call this staying on message. Every day, something will come along that will try to take you off message in some way. have you ever wondered why attack ads are so effective? It’s not because people believe them. They don’t. An attack ad almost never succeeds in convincing a viewer that the person being smeared is whatever the ad says. Where the attack ad succeeds is when it is so effective, the opponent has no choice but to respond.
In the 2004 U.S. Presidential elections, an ad campaign was started against Sen. John Kerry questioning his publicly stated war record. The ad put into doubt things that Sen. Kerry had said he had done, and cast a shadow on the military service that he touted and compared favorably against Pres. Bush. The campaign was so hard-hitting that the regular media started talking about it. Sen. Kerry had no choice but to respond. And when he did, his own message calendar went out the window. That is the artistry of a successful political campaign – making your opponent talk about what you want them to talk about.
When you market your business, you’re subject to the same influences. They might not be attack ads from a competitor, but if you’re in a competitive market you may keep tabs on what your competitors are doing and want to respond in kind sometimes. If you decide to run a sale and your competitor announces their own sale that’s just a little bit better, what do you do?
Perhaps even more likely are the day to day tasks and issues and pressures that can come up. If you’d planned to write a blog post this morning, but you’re running behind on a project, which do you choose?
Having an editorial calendar will help you keep your messages organized and your overall message on topic, and it also provides you with ample opportunity to create the necessary content. If you’ve prepared appropriately, there should be no reason to go off message, should there?
Message calendars are designed to help you, not hinder you. If an opportunity arises for you or your business, you absolutely must take advantage of it and forget about the publishing schedule.
A great example is Newsjacking. You have probably seen television or film scenes where a newspaper editor rushes into the press room and shouts, “stop the presses!” Something happened that was so important, they needed to stop printing the newspaper and start over so they could include the new story. Similarly, you always need to be on the look out for breaking news and stories which might impact your industry and customers. When you see such a story, that’s a great chance to blog and interject your opinions. What is the story, and how does it impact your customers?
To be successful at Newsjacking, you absolutely must interject your take before the news story hits its peak of interest. Once a news story stales, it becomes old news and your opinions won’t matter. If you have another piece of content waiting to be published, put it off for a day or two and run with the new story as much as you can.
Similarly, you might notice a topic that is trending within Facebook or LinkedIn Groups. If influencers and prospects are all talking about something important, that represents another opportunity for you to weigh in. This often starts as a simple post or comment in a discussion, but can develop into a full-blown blog post. This is one of the great benefits to participating in online discussions. You will have ample opportunities to get into great conversations, and can often turn those conversations into blog posts.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be open to inspiration. This applies both to when to publish a post as well as what you’re writing about. If you are suddenly inspired to write or talk about something else, go with it! That inspiration may stem from a question a client asked or something else that came up, or it might have simply come to you to write on a particular topic. The more often you write, the more often you will receive such inspiration. Writing while inspired will undoubtedly generate some of your best writing, so it’s important to take advantage of such moments, and encourage them!
- Use Evernote, Voice Message or similar tool so that wherever you are, if an idea sparks, you have an opportunity to capture as much as possible.
- Read. Read other books and blogs. As Stephen R. Covey would say, “sharpen the axe.” It is only through reading that you will gain more knowledge and sources of inspiration.
- Write as often as you can. Each time you write, you’re helping to clarify your own thoughts, and you’re getting yourself into the habit of thinking like a writer.
Having a content marketing strategy for your business is important, and a publishing schedule will absolutely help you execute that strategy. But creating content is challenging work. When an opportunity to write about a trending story comes up, or you feel inspired to write about something else, don’t hesitate to put the publishing schedule on hold and take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself.
If you’d like help coming up with a content marketing strategy for your business that helps you drive traffic to your website, generate leads, convert leads into sales and measure the results, please contact me, or consider joining the 360 Marketing Squad for regular training and Q&A opportunities.