The Joys of Editorial Calendaring

This week I returned the personal social media plans my students wrote at the term’s start.
Already they’re finding it hard to keep to what they said they would do.

That’s okay. It’s part of the process of learning how to navigate social media professionally, how to utilize it as a tool to develop one’s brand. The assignment should spark questions about which platforms are useful and why, how to generate reflective and relevant content and the appropriate balance between public and private (or personal and professional). The questions – and answers – will be different for each student based on the brand they’re in the process of developing.

But here’s a tip that can help everyone: keep an editorial calendar. Olympia typewriter

I hear the complaints already, “You want me to add one more thing to my list? This class has enough work.”

My answer is, “Yes.” Strategic Public Relations Communication at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication is a tough course with a lot of assignments. It mimics life in the public relations industry with its multiple deadlines, constant learning curve and required writing for different audiences. (Did I mention both the PR world and the course are fun? And by that I mean challenging, engaging and fun.)

There are a lot of reasons to employ an editorial calendar. Here’s a great article called Improve Content Strategy with an Editorial Calendar from The Daily Egg blog that spells out several with links to 14 free editorial calendar downloads, including three plugins for WordPress, the blog platform most of the class uses.

But the reason I’ll share is the one I’ve mentioned in class before: writing is hard enough – do everything you can to make it more automatic and it will become easier. So take five minutes to schedule your blog posts and tweets for the month. Map it out and make sure it all supports your personal brand. Generating content on a consistent basis is easier when you have a plan. And if you don’t believe me, imagine managing social media branding not just for yourself, but for five clients simultaneously, without one.

A plan doesn’t mean you can’t veer off it when inspiration strikes. In fact, it makes it easier because you’re always ahead of the game.

Speaking of insPiRation, this week was filled with news tailored for the PR professional, from CVS announcing an end to cigarette sales (corporate social responsibility, anyone?) to historic feminist Super Bowl ads to the viral news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death to a PR disaster as the Sochi Olympics opened. And in case those don’t float your PR boat, I’ve included some evergreen topics, such as nonprofits, social media branding, crisis communications and more. I’ve also created some questions as a possible starting point for your responses.  Feel free to answer them or take another tack.

Social media & nonprofits
Does Social Media Really Motivate Supporters? (Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog)
What does this new report on digital persuasion mean for nonprofits? Can nonprofits afford to operate without a coherent social media plan?

Corporate social responsibility… investor relations
CVS Caremark, No. 2 Drugstore Chain, Will End All Tobacco Sales (Los Angeles Times)
Do you think this decision will benefit or hurt CVS’ brand? Will investors respond positively or not?

Athletics… legacy media… viral social media
FTW: How USA Today Mastered Viral Sports Content (Digiday)
Do you like this approach to sports news? Should other sports news providers do the same?

Facebook… investor relations
What You’re Worth to Facebook (The New Yorker)
How do you feel about a social media site using your information to generate specific ads: privacy invasion or smart marketing? Will it help Facebook win over advertisers and investors?

Social media branding… client relationships
8 Questions to Ask if You Outsource Your Social Media (Small Business Know-How Blog)
What do these questions – and answers – tell you about how to position yourself as a social media public relations professional?

Promoting legacy media with new media (Instagram)…
The Office’s B.J. Novak Launches First Book on Instagram (Mashable)
The written word on Instagram? Do you think this savvy marketing idea will pay off?

Crisis communications…
The 5 Worst Video Media Disasters of January (Ragan’s PR Daily)
Pick one or more of these and explain how you would manage the fallout.

The Super Bowl & advertising: Gender, viral marketing, CSR, etc.
Why Toy Startup GoldieBlox’s Historic $4 Million Super Bowl Ad Win Matters (Forbes)
What do you think about GoldieBlox’s “disrupt the pink aisle” marketing strategy? What is the effect on society when small businesses need to win a contest to run an ad during the Super Bowl? What are the corporate social responsibility implications of GoldieBlox’s products and marketing strategy, and also the founder’s fight with the Beastie Boys?

Social media changing the news cycle and our social responses…
Death in a Crowd (The New Yorker) and…
Trending: Mortality (The New Yorker)
Why is it significant that “social media wrote the first eulogy for Phillip Seymour Hoffman” and  “profoundly… altered the public experience” of grief?

PR Fail: Olympics, PR & Twitter…
Olympic Ring Fails in First Minutes of Opening Ceremony (Mashable)
In today’s wired world is a PR fail like this more or less of a big deal? Will the failure of all Olympic rings to light be magnified by social media or replaced more quickly by something else as our news cycle ever quickens? What is the impact on brands or event production?

Photo source: Google Images

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