Putting together a content calendar is easy compared to the task of actually creating the content, especially when you have been tasked solely with sourcing topics and creating the majority of the content (including images, copy and social media messaging). But, with an easy workflow and checklist to follow, each piece of content created can be more effective and less fragmented. In turn, making the content creation and content promotion more manageable and enjoyable.
Thanks to Steve Buttry for posting the original story budgets work flow that was ultimately the inspiration for this post. I’ve taken Steve’s newsroom list and reordered it for the marketer and not the journalist. I’ve created new sections as a guide to approaching content, the organization of it and tips for creation. I left in Steve’s original notes from the newsroom because I felt they sparked creativity in how one can approach content creation and promotion. You may want to set up a spreadsheet or Word document that you can customize for your needs based on the tips below. We went ahead and created one for you to get you started.
Download the Content Marketing Plan Template here. If you’re solo use this as a checklist, if you have a team of writers have them fill one of these out for every piece of content that’s created – it will help you stay organized, productive and maximize on promotion of each piece.
CONTENT SETUP AND CREATION
- In the newsroom: A one-word identifier for the content.
- For the marketer: Make your slug a “one-liner” vs a “one-word-er” for the content, such as your headline or title of the post, take the title of this post for example “Adapting Newsroom Content Planning to your Non-Newsroom Content Marketing”
- Tip A: Use this to build promotional headlines in email marketing and social media messaging
- Tip B: Use this same process for other types of content like images or slide decks.
News (change to description)
- In the newsroom: Brief description of the issue or event being covered.
- For the marketer: Make your News column the “description” of your content piece.
- Tip A: Use this short description as your “sell” line for the piece of content; it can be used for promotional teaser copy in email marketing, social media messaging (replace the copy pulled in from Facebook, additional messaging on Twitter)
- Tip B: Use the slug and the news for social media that allows for longer messages like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+
- In the newsroom: Names of staff members covering (identifying lead staffers if it’s a large team).
- Tip: Use this if you have multiple writers or if you are utilizing multiple staff members from different departments to put together your content, use this to pre-plan and understand where you need to gather your information.
- In the newsroom: Have you applied an accuracy checklist to ensure that your facts are correct? Are you struggling to verify key pieces of information? Should you withhold publication of some or all of the information until you verify facts? Is there a responsible way to crowdsource verification for this story? You should note any corrections needed or already made in this column.
- For the marketer: Who is watching your back? Who is your go-to for reviewing and editing? We can’t do it alone, use someone as your backup for checking for accuracy, typos and grammar and improvements overall.
- In the newsroom and for the marketer: Does this present legal issues that might require consultation with an attorney? Does this present ethical or sensitive issues that will require the top editor’s attention? Does the story use unnamed sources and has the appropriate editor approved the granting of confidentiality? Spell out the concerns and make sure you address them before publishing.
Sharing (change this to Public Relations)
- Is this a story of potential national or regional interest that you should share with other newsrooms in your company or in any sharing arrangements you might have.
- For the marketer: How can I promote this internally to get colleagues and friends to share your content? Is this buzzworthy enough to send to our PR team?
Web (change to Web Publish date)
- In the newsroom: When it was/will be posted to the web and plans, if any, for updating.
- For the marketer: Are you crazy? Heck yes it is going to be posted to the web – question is, when and how it will get there.
- Tip: Make a schedule for all your content, this includes reviewing and editing dates, original post date and promotional dates, also follow up content promotion dates. If you are using WordPress there are great Editorial Calendar plugins – we use Edit Flow but big gun Chris Brogan recommends Editorial Calendar. Edit Flow gives you a few more options for collaboration and editing scheduling. I’ve used both so check them both out and see which might best be suited for your needs.
- In the newsroom: What, if anything, are you doing to invite the community to contribute to the story?
- For the marketer: This goes for us too. Think of this as “your call to action.” Do you want people to leave comments, share their story, opinion, photo? Identify this to encourage interaction and engagement from your audience.
Data (change to Data tracking)
- In the newsroom: Plans, if any, for database use.
- For the marketer: Change this to “data tracking” – how will you track the success of this piece and monitor its performance? What will you do if it catches on like wildfire? What mechanisms do you have in place to help keep it flowing? If you’re using Google Analytics (GA) and your content is getting published on a third party site or if you are promoting it socially, utilize the Google URL builder to create a tracking code for each traffic/referral source. Additionally, setup a special report in GA to track performance of content from different writers, topics, sources.
SEO (we recommend this be added for all content including but not limited to blog posts, Pinterest graphics, press releases, videos, etc.)
- Tip: Write an individual Title tag and meta description for blog posts and press releases, do a little keyword research on your topic using Google’s keyword tool. Make sure you add a description with relevant keywords to your image and topic to your Pinterest graphics.
- Plans, if any, for graphics. On which platform(s) will you use the graphic(s)?
- For the marketer: See also visual and visual social.
- Is the story mentioned (or should it be?) on appropriate topical blogs on your site? Or is it a story that originated in a staff or community blog? Does the story present an opportunity for engaging with any community blogs?
- Additional questions: Are there other relevant blogs or content partnerships that you can leverage to further promote your content?
- In the newsroom and for the marketer: Does the story have links to digital sources of information used in the reporting? Does it have links to earlier stories you have written on this topic or issue? Does it link to competing media or distant media who have reported some of this information already?
- Tip: With regard to SEO, if you are afraid to link to third party sites, don’t be. This used to be the case but nowadays search engines look favorably upon linking to other sites because you are linking to additional sources and related information making your piece related. But, if you have written something related to your topic make sure to link to that piece of content too.
- In the newsroom: If the story will have sidebars or other elements not covered in the other columns, you should have a place to mention them.
- For the marketer: Think about what other content has been produced that is related to this piece? Make sure you link to those related pieces in blog posts (this is will help increase visibility to other areas of related content via search engines and lead the reader to discovering additional information on our site).
- What are plans visual content such as breaking photos for social media and web, video, photo galleries, multimedia, etc.? If not clear from staffing, this column might identify who is providing visual content. Another approach would be separate columns for photo (could be multiple columns, perhaps for breaking photo for social/web, photo gallery), video and multimedia.
- Tip: Identify what images you’ll need to accompany this piece of content.
- Ask yourself: How will I be promoting the content? With images? If so, on which channels, what will the message be and what images will accompany which promotional message? Which social sources do I need to do this for (Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
PROMOTION AND ENGAGEMENT: SOCIAL MESSAGING AND VISUAL SOCIAL
Mention plans for sharing photos and videos via Twitter, Facebook, G+, Tout, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr and/or YouTube.
Tweet, Facebook, Google+
- Whether the news has been tweeted, with or without a link, and whether more tweets are expected. Whether it has been or should be posted to Facebook, with or without a link, and whether the post is likely to need updating. Whether it has been posted to G+, with or without a link.
- Tip A: You can use the slug and description here, but also use this area to create additional promotional messages and create a promotional schedule for you and other team members.
- Tip B: Review your content are there pieces of it that you can pull for teasers, like a quote, statistics or intriguing line? Make these your additional promotional messages.
- Plans, if any, for live coverage, including tools and techniques used, such as ScribbleLive, feeding in live tweets, live chat, livestreaming video (staff or embed from another source), etc.
- Tip: If this is a webinar, we suggest selecting a hashtag that can easily be tracked for Q&A and to monitor engagement before, during and after. Promote your hashtag pre-webinar in emails and social media and add it to your deck in the footer to remind attendees.
- In the newsroom: Whether a text alert should be or has been sent, and whether updates are likely.
- For the marketer: If you are utilizing SMS add this into your spreadsheet to craft a message. Text messages are 160 characters long, use that as your guide. If you aren’t utilizing SMS utilize this field for additional Twitter and social messages, trim your message to 120 or 100 to leave room for re-tweeting and mentions.
- In the newsroom: Whether an email alert should be or has been sent, and whether updates are likely.
- Tip: will this piece be used in your upcoming email marketing communication? If so, plug in your Slug and Description – you already did the work!
- In the newsroom: If you have a daily news webcast, is this a story you suggest for inclusion?
- For the marketer: Should this be included on the home page or promoted to specific groups on LinkedIn, partners, internal staff?
Print (change to Formats)
- In the newsroom: Do you suggest this for the print product, and if so, how long do you expect that version to be? What other elements should be used or considered for print? This could easily be multiple columns: Print, Length, Page one, Section, Sidebar, Visual.
- Tip: If you don’t have a print piece to consider then change this to “Formats.” How can this content be created in other formats – a slide deck then promoted on slideshare and LinkedIn, photo album on Facebook? How can this be transformed into a photo story on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Other to drive engagement? Is this topic worthy of a podcast or video?
Promotion (change to third party promotion)
- In the newsroom and for the marketer: What digital content should you promote in print and vice versa? Where might you share links externally?
- Tip: Use this column to cross your t’s and dot your i’s. Run through all areas of promotion or new areas to promote content that are appropriate for this type of content, check with internal folks, management or networking groups to see if there may be an opportunity to boost the visibility of your content.
What tips do you have for creating and organizing your content? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook.