Content marketing involves generating or curating content. It requires disciplined maintenance of an editorial calendar to keep the content flowing on schedule.
In advertising campaigns, you approve TV or radio spots or newspaper display ads, then rely on someone in the ad agency to buy the time and space. You just send a check.
Content marketing is more of a contact sport. You have to develop content that is relevant and useful for your target audience and make sure you produce the content when it is timely.
It does little good to publish a blog about how to make pumpkin pancakes in March.
The role of an editorial calendar is to help you keep track of important dates and planned content. The editorial calendar should show who is responsible for generating what content and when it is due.
Effective editorial calendars also incorporate the deadlines of the publications and blogs you are pitching. Magazines, for example, have their own editorial calendars, which include deadlines and procedures for accepting pitches and actual content.
The editorial calendar can be an efficient and handy way to keep track of key reporters, editors and bloggers and their contact information. It might even remind you to make contacts with your media targets that don’t involve a pitch to establish or deepen your relationships.
As a tangible document, the editorial calendar provides the work table for staff members to brainstorm content ideas and attach dates, names and accountability to those ideas. The editorial calendar is an online tickler file so you don't forget important events, milestones and media deadlines.
The discipline created by the editorial calendar plays a critical role in brand management through content marketing. It provides purpose to staff meetings, drives an agenda and keeps you on track.
In organizations with multiple marketing staffs or business units, editorial calendars offer an easy way to exchange useful information, which can fetch smart suggestions or lead to collaborative efforts that reinforce enterprise-wide messaging.
Editorial calendar discipline applies as well to self-publishing your content. You decide where content will go and how it will be displayed on a website or social media, how it will be integrated and how it will be promoted.
To be as effective as possible, editorial calendars need to be stretched out. If you start today, your calendar should extend at least through 2015, leaving room for you to explore both short-term and longer-term opportunities.
Don't worry about the format of your editorial calendar. You can modify the format as you go and learn how to shape it to your needs. Worry instead about not having an editorial calendar and the discipline it enforces.