In Defense of Editorial Calendars
I like Gary Vaynerchuk. His message to the world–be human, be responsive, be fast–is the same as what we try to do for our clients through brand journalism. (If you’re a Gary Vee fan,you might like this interview I did with him a couple years ago.)
During his presentation at SXSW this year, Gary said a lot of things that appeal to the social media strategist in all of us. But he also said some baffling things–like this quote: “Content calendars suck; that’s like bringing a script to a cocktail party.”
That one cuts close to the bone for me, since a lot of my work involves making sure we have a central calendar to plan our campaign around. The calendar coordinates the teams, the messaging, the distribution channels, and the voices that go into a sophisticated content-centric campaign.
Here’s my three-part response to Gary’s statement:
- Content calendars are extraordinarily hard to build when you’re dealing with complex campaigns for global brands
- When done right, content calendars unify disparate silos within an organization, providing cohesiveness to a campaign with lots of stakeholders. Think PR, AR, C-suite, product teams, legal, global subs…all with their own timelines and messaging priorities. A good calendar imposes order on the chaos and helps everyone align their goals across all channels
- There’s no reason to sacrifice planning and quality on the altar of speed and responsiveness. Clients can and should expect both from a content-centric campaign
Pick up a magazine or read a newspaper, and you’ll see the output of a content calendar: Publishers carefully blending long-lead feature stories with quick-hit breaking news. Every magazine issue and every newspaper section is driven by a content calendar, because calendaring is essentially planning. And who’s against planning? Should all content be seat-of-the-pants? And what would that world look like?
The trick to succeeding with an editorial calendar is knowing how to blend it with real-time responsiveness–you have to know when to chuck the plan and crank something out now now now. And that is probably what Gary was railing against–companies that appear clueless because they’re mindlessly sticking to their talking points instead of participating in conversations.
That I get. What I don’t get is the idea that we shouldn’t be planning our content creation.