It’s that time of year: planning season. We’re thinking about our resolutions, budgeting for the new year at home and work and setting some new goals.
For those of us who are writers, content marketers, editors or bloggers (or all of the above), this process leans heavily on the creation of a content calendar.
This massively important yet sometimes elusive document gives us an overview of the year ahead — or weeks or months, depending on your planning style and the nature of what you write about — allowing you to stay on schedule, work toward deadlines, hand out assignments and gather art and other assets you need to publish regularly.
Planning for the year in content
I’m currently putting finishing touches on my overall marketing calendar for 2015, and concurrently building out a content calendar that ladders up to those big-picture initiatives and themes for the year. My content calendar focuses mostly on weekly blog posts and a quarterly print and digital newsletter, but also includes other special projects and social media initiatives.
While the actual content changes year to year, one thing doesn’t: It’s going to take a lot of content to fill up that calendar and to put these plans into practice. As part of a small marketing team, I overcome this hurdle by tapping into other departments, repurposing content for multiple channels and otherwise finding creative ways to keep our output of thought leadership content lively and active, without overwhelming any one team with the burden of content creation.
The importance of quality content
Whether you’re creating content for your company blog, events, media outreach or other needs, the importance of quality content is impossible to ignore. Consider, for example, that B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who don’t blog — but just 34% of companies have a dedicated content marketing budget. So while the need for engaging, share-worthy content is high, there’s often no dedicated staff appointed to create it.
B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t blog.
The good news is that as PR pros, we have fine-tuned our writing chops. The challenge we now face is: How do we keep up with the demand for content while delivering quality, results-driven content that is fresh, engaging and inspiring?
It helps to find shortcuts to great content. While some pieces will come together in a more traditional way — starting with an outline, gathering research, writing draft after draft — much of it happens on much shorter deadlines by necessity.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll share more tips in this series on how to create great content. First, let’s tackle how to create that virtual team:
How to Create a Content Team
Even if you are a solo practitioner or part of a small marketing department, find ways to expand your virtual team and bring others into the content creation process. Where to find these collaborators? Here are some starters:
1. New team members.
The junior members of your staff, whether they’re in marketing, IT or finance, are often hungry for experience. Many of them are fresh out of college, where they were regularly writing, regardless of discipline. Tap into that knowledge and enthusiasm.
Even a more experienced hire wants to integrate quickly with the company culture and make a mark. Help them do that by giving them a chance to write for the company blog, create a slideshow or contribute to a newsletter.
2. Leaders in other departments seeking to raise their profiles.
In the age of social media and digital-powered hiring, we all must put consistent, ongoing work into growing our personal brands. Help your colleagues raise their profiles as thought leaders by offering them opportunities to write blog posts or contribute in other channels.
3. Your audience.
Why not take social engagement a step further and crowd-source content or directly engage one of your top commenters or social followers and ask if they’d like to guest author a blog post or contribute to a white paper? You’ll bring in a fresh perspective with the added bonus of a built-in content promoter.
Your clients are also peers and thought leaders in their own rights. By inviting them to write with and for you, you provide them a venue for expressing their professional opinions, while further fostering your relationship.
All of these cases require some teaching, guiding and editing, but will bring in new voices to your content while helping you fill your content calendar.
What tips do you have for creating a team to help you meet your content marketing goals?
Stay tuned for my next posts in this series, which will cover finding content everywhere, broadening your arsenal of story types, thinking beyond copy and how to plan for evergreens, but leave room for spontaneity.
Some of the content from this series was published in an article I wrote for the PR News Writer’s Guidebook 2014 called “Create Inspiring Content by Seeing Stories Everywhere and Thinking Beyond Copy.”