Editorial calendars – turn possible PR coverage into a sure thing

Finding articles difficult to place? Unsure on what topics journalists are going to be writing about? Simon Woolley at the IBA PressOffice, explains how editorial calendars can uncover journalist secrets and help you gain valuable press coverage.

With more content being produced than ever before, how do we know which of your client’s topics are relevant for journalists, and when? Enter the editorial calendar.

According to a search from the media tool Cision, there are over 189,800 editorial calendar opportunities worldwide, so finding something that relates to your client shouldn’t be too hard.

Editorial calendars, or ‘ed cals’, aren’t new – print publications have been using them for years to help outline their upcoming content focus. But with more content being pitched to a small pool of journalists, they are a great way to add relevance to your pitching. Some of the benefits of integrating editorial calendars into your content strategy include:

  • Being able to easily identify ‘hot’ media topics and content themes to focus on throughout the year ahead, which should also inform your communication strategy
  • Enables you to gather and track upcoming opportunities in advance so you can get preparing your thought leadership content
  • Allows you to plan and schedule social media updates to go alongside these hot topics – since PR and social media go together like Nutella and the French
An example of an editorial calendar from The Grocer

Journalists recognize the worth
But don’t just take my word for it. David Rubinstein, vice president of operations and editorial at BZ Media and editor in chief of SD Times, said the publication’s editorial calendar is a useful tool “for both PR professionals and advertisers,” adding that “PR professionals can pitch contributions from specific clients based on the scheduled editorial content, which gives them the lead time to get it all together.”

So how do you sift through those 189,800 editorial calendar opportunities to find something that relates to your client?

A tip here from a hardened PR professional – if there isn’t a link to an ed cal on your target publication’s website, try looking for their most recent media kit or advertising pack.

Take note, action quickly
Now you have the topic and often the assigned journalist. But remember, the key is the deadline for which to send the content and the planned date of publication. Why? Because it’s always better to get in earlier rather than later. Hardcopy magazines fill up fast with advertising and content that isn’t always on the calendar, so often getting in touch with the journalist beforehand for a quick synopsis or any questions can help put your company on the radar.

Make your copy relevant and not too selly
Remember that although the magazines are often looking for advertising to support their forward features, you copy still needs to be good and not over selly. The key to any successful PR campaign is regular ‘third party endorsement’ of your client messages delivered to your target audience. An editorial calendar can help with this and use these placement opportunities to deliver client thought leadership messages and key themes alongside what media ‘hot topics’. If you don’t marry the two then you run the risk of annoying your client and target journalists.

Once you are all on the same page, you can start drafting the content and nailing down those placements.

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