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Editorial Plan Best Practices: Prime Your Content Marketing for Success

editorial plan processWith content marketing strategies, an editorial plan can go a long way as you consider resources, budgets, types of content, a content calendar, and more. Below, I’ve compiled a set of helpful articles that Content Marketing Institute has created on editorial planning, as well as some insights on the topic from other reputable sources. Take a look at these key resources the experts have identified for improving your efforts to create and manage an editorial plan — including insights on best practices, handy templates, and useful tools.

Globalizing content

Pam Didner tackles an editorial plan on a global scale in her post on the Holy Grail of globalizing editorial planning. She points out that an editorial plan that takes shape at a corporate level still needs to scale to geographic regions. Topics must be able to span multiple geographical and cultural boundaries. At the same time, companies need to establish sound practices to support the effective use of a content calendar. In her post, she also references a SlideShare presentation on the topic:

As companies work through an editorial plan process, Pam suggests that they:

  • Identify and prioritize topics (customers, the sales team, and analysts can help)
  • Make topics broad enough so that more specific topics can be defined — whether it’s for a blog post, a case study, or other content efforts
  • Finalize global editorial topics and the timeline
  • Create a geo-specific editorial calendar

Once the content is distributed, the response can be measured. Pam offers these possibilities:

  • Sales volume goal
  • Number of clicks on the landing page
  • Opening rates on email campaigns
  • Number of prospects
  • Number of downloads on content
  • Number of attendees at local events

Creating a content calendar

In a 2012 Copyblogger post, Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi discussed a key component of any successful editorial plan: the content marketing calendar. His top-line suggestions revolved around the features that every editorial calendar needs to include:

  • A prioritized list of what you are publishing based on the content strategy you’ve developed
  • Assigned content producer(s) and/or editors who will be responsible for the content
  • Channel(s) the content will be delivered through (i.e., “Our eBook series will be published on our website, as well as on SlideShare.”)
  • Meta data — i.e., “tags” that can be used to track the types and topics of the content you are creating, as well as how each content piece fits in to your overarching content marketing goals
  • Targeted publishing dates, as well as a timeline to make sure your content meets its deadlines for every phase of the creation and production process

Adding to Joe’s perspective, Tim Berry, who wrote an article on defining and creating an editorial plan, believes an editorial plan needs to include three main elements:

  1. Defining the target audience (including gender, age, interests, and specific needs)
  2. Nature of the content to use for a specific target audience (i.e., “short articles, long-form pieces, blog posts, online tools, profiles, and social media hooks.”)
  3. Fulfillment details (i.e., identifying potential content creators, such as staff writers or freelancers)

In her post on how to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing, CMI’s Michele Linn also offers specific details on how this essential tool fits into the editorial plan process.

While referencing an editorial calendar template, Michele notes: “It’s important to have an editorial calendar to keep your content consistent and relevant. It also helps keep your marketing team on the same page and is a great reference for your management.”

Michele points out that it’s worth creating a master editorial calendar, with editorial plan initiatives that marketers can see at a glance (including key dates and an overview of the types of content). But she also recommends that separate editorial calendars be developed as well, to document specific details: “Have separate spreadsheets or tabs for each specific type of content you are creating. For instance, you may have one tab for your blog, another for your newsletter and another for the additional types of content you create, such as eBooks, white papers and case studies. How you break this up will depend on how you manage each of these content types,” Michele writes.

Leveraging your content marketing strategy

Another critical part of creating a successful editorial plan involves making good use of content marketing strategies when populating your editorial calendar. Heidi Cohen outlines several of her top recommendations in her CMI post, 5 Content Marketing Strategies to Fill Your Editorial Calendar. The strategies include:

  • Create evergreen content: Heidi describes this as the core of your content marketing offering that attracts links. It can be timeless, even if used every year as the foundation of holiday content.
  • Leverage “just-in-time” content: Take full advantage of trending topics and demonstrate that your organization is “nimble and on top of things.” However, Heidi also cautions against writing about a topic just because it’s popular, and advised content marketers to “make sure you find a way to keep it relevant for your business.”
  • Repurpose content: Created from materials you’ve already published in the past, repurposed content can be refined so that it’s suitable for use on new platforms, or to meet additional strategic goals. For some best practices on repurposing content, Heidi references this post that offers 56 ways to reuse content marketing.

What strategies and tactics have you used to successfully define, develop, and deploy your editorial plan? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Looking for more guidance on building or refining your editorial plan? Read CMI’s how-to guide on planning.

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