Creating a communications calendar (or editorial calendar) can be a tedious task, even when you know it is an important tool. The most frustrating part for me personally is coming up with a system to manage the information, in a way that won’t become overwhelming or cumbersome to maintain as the year goes on. I’ve played with a few different communications calendars over the past few years, and I’d like to share the best tips and calendars that I’ve come across with you all.
Creating a Communications Calendar
So where do you get an amazing communications calendar? Where do you start? It can seem overwhelming trying to figure out everything that you need to track.
Here are some resources and templates to check out for creating (or downloading) your own content calendar – best yet, they are all free:
- This awesome post on Beth Kanter’s blog and the editorial calendar included from Lightbox Collaborative
- Create a word doc, or a google doc, of a calendar. You can color code different types of communications/events or simply make notes on them for a simple at-a-glance calendar
Maintaining a Productive Communications Calendar
Having a communications calendar filled out for the year will help you not only avoid headaches of forgotten reminders or messaging that needed to be sent, but it helps you to record ideas for future communications.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind:
- It’s a living document. Just because it’s on the calendar doesn’t mean it’s set in stone or needs to be completely filled in all at once – you should be adding to it and revising it throughout the year.
- Make sure it’s shared with your whole team. Communications, development and fundraising (and anyone else you think should be involved) should be kept in the loop, so they can fill in when important events and notable messaging should happen.
- Delegate tasks. You aren’t the only person that communications affects. Make sure to review the calendar at every meeting you have with key staff, to make sure you are on track.
- Use a system that works for YOU. Yeah, there are lots of tools out there with fancy bells and whistles for creating communications calendars, but maybe all you really need is a shared Google calendar or an internally shared spreadsheet. Do what works best for the mission of your organization, not something that you picked because it had a lot of cool features (many of which you may never end up actually using).
- Don’t set it and forget it. The important thing is to keep the calendar relevant and off the back-burner of your thoughts. Set a reminder to review your communication calendar daily, once a week, or once a month, which can help you stay on task and keep it up to date (especially if you don’t have meetings with others about communications on a regular basis).
What tips do you have to share about creating/managing a communication calendar?