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Alleviate stress: Plan ahead with editorial calendars

Your marketing plan includes emails, blogs, tweets, newsletters, church bulletins, website updates — and probably much more. Editorial calendars are great because they help set efficient production schedules and give your team plenty of time to write content. You shouldn’t have to stress when someone gets sick and can’t meet a deadline.

With so many marketing tools available, it can be difficult to track what content you’ve posted, the avenues through which you made it available and when it appeared. To work most efficiently and match your content plan to your church’s goals, develop an editorial calendar.

While creating an editorial calendar may seem like an extra step in your already-full marketing strategy, it doesn’t need to be complicated. You can use spreadsheets or other programs with table tools that enable you to identify content by title, dates, author and so forth. Here’s a sample from the Content Marketing Institute.

It may help to have two or more editorial calendars: a master calendar where you can see everything at a glance and separate calendars for specific activities, months, weeks, days — whatever makes sense for your content volume and church schedule. You could also plan content according to spiritual themes that your pastor has planned or by religious or seasonal holidays. Suggestions from Non-Profit Marketing include organizing by channel, audience or program.

If your spreadsheet program enables you to track the multiple calendars with tabs, this also can be very helpful.

In addition to copy, you can use editorial calendars to plan for video and audio files, downloads, photos, graphics and other content elements. If you know you need these in advance, it can give you time to find and use these important features.

The Official United Methodist Program Calendar is a helpful tool to guide your planning. It includes program suggestions, liturgical colors, addresses of all agencies, dated program events and special days in the life of the church.

Editorial calendars also can help you recognize opportunities to recycle content. If you’ve posted content on your blog, for example, about the best Christian books, post the content on your Facebook page six months or a year later, but include fresh picks. Or if you tweeted about a class or group that participated in a fun community project, write about it in your next newsletter.

You can also “tease” your content in different media. For example, if you plan to update your website with pictures from your church picnic, send an email a week or so before, telling your members to look for the update.

Finally, be sure to have a system to manage priorities of content and to build in flexibility. It’s inevitable that Internet connections fail and files become corrupted. You shouldn’t have to stress when a writer misses a deadline because of personal complications. Work on securing and preparing the most important content first (such as a regular blog post from your pastor) so you have enough time to work out the bugs. Do this by assigning earlier deadlines to the most important content. Editorial calendars can help your church run smoothly, alleviate stress and let you focus on what matters most!