Editorial Calendars: A vital component of any media strategy
September 15, 2020 • 4 minute read
Each year, media outlets release editorial calendars, which are a guide to the features and topics that will be covered in each issue. Public relations, communications and content professionals often turn to editorial calendars to identify – and get ahead of – potential media engagement opportunities, making editorial calendars an essential and influential component in helping law firms and other professional services firms build a media relations and content strategy.
Develop a process for collecting and tracking editorial calendars
First, consider the types of publications that matter most to the firm and the audiences it is trying to reach. There are millions of media outlets across a range of industries and regions, and collecting all their editorial calendars – let alone pitching all the relevant features – isn’t a realistic endeavor.
Once you have your targeted list, look to the publication’s media kit or advertising page for their editorial calendar. Also consider reaching out to an editorial contact at the publication – this can point you in the right direction if you don’t see a calendar on the website and has the added benefit of helping to build a relationship with the outlet. Be conscious of timing; keep track of when new calendars are made available, how often each issue runs and the lead time for submission.
You will then need to implement a process to collect, catalogue and track the relevant editorial features and important dates. Having a system, like an Excel spreadsheet, to log deadlines, publishing dates, even the type of opportunity and target readership will help the firm plan accordingly and not miss potential opportunities.
Integrating editorial calendars into media relations strategy
When integrating editorial calendars into a media relations strategy, PR professionals should keep several considerations in mind:
- What are the firm’s PR goals and objectives?
- What types of opportunities (interviews, bylined articles, awards or speaking engagements) are the best fit to achieve these goals?
- What kinds of opportunities does each outlet offer? Pitching a bylined article, for example, to a publication that doesn’t accept contributed content can hurt a PR person’s credibility with editors.
The firm should also acknowledge the bandwidth of its spokespeople and their availability for opportunities when identifying appropriate editorial features. While editorial teams typically map out the exact content to fill out the features in advance, keep in mind how long it will take to author an article or a spokesperson’s availability for interviews if the opportunities present themselves. If a firm is considering awards and lists submissions, think about how long it will take to draft a nomination.
While editorial calendars can provide some indication of when journalists will begin working on editorial content, do keep in mind that they’re primarily geared towards advertisers, so it’s not uncommon to come across ambiguous deadlines – like including the month advertising materials are due rather a submission deadline for an editorial feature. Changes to the line-up of content may also occur, as anything can happen to disrupt the editorial schedule (for example, a worldwide pandemic).
Periodically check the publication’s editorial calendar to identify scheduling changes. It’s also helpful to reach out to editorial contacts for verification – this can help create and foster a relationship with the outlet, and is especially helpful for publications that are a priority to the firm.
As we approach the end of the year, consider integrating editorial calendars into media strategy plans. Not only will it help plan ahead, but it can also help build a relationship between PR professionals and relevant media outlets.
Yvonnie Phan is a senior account executive with Infinite Global’s New York office. Along with day-to-day media relations efforts, she leads the firm’s editorial calendar collection and pitching initiative. She can be reached at YvonnieP@infiniteglobal.com.