Oftentimes public relations professionals think of content calendars as a tool for marketing communications programs. Having an internal editorial calendar is absolutely important for any content program. Since an integrated public relations campaign has evolved from just media relations, PR pros should also consider a content calendar as part of their overall strategic PR plan.
Knowing your audience(s) is one of the primary tenants of public relations, and the purpose of any good content is to engage, educate and encourage action. Therefore, it is necessary for us to identify those people who really are influential and approach them through high-quality content rather than corporate or product blurbs.
It is also essential to make sure that a content calendar is developed based on your overall marketing goals. What do you want to accomplish this year? What new products will be announced? Are you a start-up just entering the market or are you positioning for an IPO, other investments or hoping for an exit strategy? Positioning your executives as subject matter experts and/or thought leaders is always a good strategy in any PR Plan.
So, what should be incorporated into a public relations content calendar to reach appropriate audiences and support marketing objectives?
Events are one of the best opportunities to make your public relations strategy successful, whether it is through external trade shows such as HIMSS or other health/medical conferences or internal events such as webinars and user groups. Listing upcoming events in your content calendar allows you to develop content that strategically targets potential buyers as well as current customers, and position executives and thought leaders, all based on the timeline for the events. You can tie press releases and customer case studies to events, announce executive speakers or even blog about your giveaways at a trade show.
A well accepted strategy in PR is to average one press release every month. This allows you to keep your name and messaging top of mind and fresh with reporters. Scheduling your press releases in advance of industry events and around product launches helps your PR team coordinate with your marketing team to make sure the news is ready to be disseminated at the right time.
Thought leadership articles and case studies are excellent tools in the arsenal of any PR professional to demonstrate your knowledge and experience. Planning to develop these types of articles in your content calendar and then pitching for placement in key media outlets is the kind of valuable coverage many organizations desire. Compare the articles you plan to develop to the next category – editorial opportunity calendars – and you’ve got a head start on content that can be published.
Editorial Opportunity Calendars
Years ago, editorial opportunity calendars were the bread and butter in any PR campaign. With the move towards online media, many publications no longer publish or adhere to editorial calendars. But some still do and researching those calendars and adding key opportunities to your PR content calendar allows you to develop content in a timely basis to pitch to those media outlets. Make sure, however, that you build in lead times into your calendar. Another benefit to editorial calendars is they give you an idea of what topics the media is interested in covering and can help you develop a list of content ideas for the year.
Other categories that can be included in an integrated PR content calendar are blogs, customer newsletters and social media outreach. There are plenty of free tools on the web that you can use to develop a content calendar.
In the end, it all works together. Having a calendar of events, press releases and editorial opportunities allows a public relations professional to strategically plan to develop content that meets deadlines, achieves marketing goals and engages, educates and encourages action from your key audiences.