A year is a long time in communications. A lot can happen, and it’s important to maintain communicative and top of mind with clients and stakeholders alike. By leaving things to the last minute and writing articles on the hoof, chances are you’ll struggle to maintain a consistent output and a steady flow of ideas.
If well executed, a content calendar can give your external communications the structure it needs. Your goal should be a robust pipeline of articles and content to last you the next six months or longer. Not everything needs to be produced right away, but your plan should detail what needs writing and when, and whom to assign each piece to.
Below, we offer our top tips for an engaging and well-stocked calendar.
What’s your point?
The first step is to identify why you’re writing and for whom. Is your goal to generate new leads or improve SEO? Or perhaps it’s about improving your brand’s visibility by establishing yourselves as a thought leader in your field.
This is something to discuss internally; arrange a workshop with your marketing and communications colleagues, as well as other stakeholders, using it as an opportunity to establish clear objectives for the year ahead.
Cluster your ideas
Think big picture: rather than trying to pluck topics and stories out of thin air, start by brainstorming broader outlines of messages and themes you want to focus on.
Again, reach out to colleagues, as well as your clients. Use these conversations to sketch out four or five ‘topic clusters’. Each cluster represents a hot topic or theme – such as technology and innovation, changes in regulation or emerging industry trends.
For each cluster, try and think of interesting angles for five or six stories. By the end of this process, you should have a pool of about 30 clear-cut ideas. These can be supplemented by time-specific ‘newsier’ items focusing on upcoming events or developments in your industry or organisation.
Stress test your thoughts
Not all articles are created equal, and it’s important to apply a critical approach and weed out the weaker ideas. Put yourself in the mind of a potential client or market participant: is your idea interesting or original enough; would it create a talking point? Remember, your motivation should be to engage and inspire, not just fill space. Involve colleagues to make this vetting process as objective as possible.
Make each piece stretch
Once you have your final selection in place, you can dip into your pool to generate different forms of content. These might include blogs, social media posts and staff interviews, as well as long-form content in the form of lengthier articles and white papers.
Feeling adventurous? You can also include infographics, short films, and other types of media. There are a million ways to tell the same story and still keep it feeling fresh.
Plot your path
Knowing what to write (and what not to), it’s now a case of deciding what goes where, and when. With the addition of a few topical, ad-hoc items, you should now have enough to keep your calendar well stocked for the next six months. A typical schedule might look like this:
- A daily post for LinkedIn or other channels.
- A short online article or blog every other day.
- A weekly interview with a colleague or client.
- A longer article or white paper every two to three weeks.
- A monthly infographic or short video.
There’s nothing left to do but put fingers to keyboard and start writing. There’s plenty of work ahead, but never fear: we’re here if you need us! At Baxter Lawley Communications, we work with clients throughout the content lifecycle, from initial planning and idea generation to final execution. Get in touch today to find out how we can support you.