Editorial Calendar | Glossary

If you are a content creator in any medium, you should learn how to create and use an editorial calendar. These tools help writers, editors, social media influencers, graphic designers, and others stay on top of their content creation workflow and manage an effective content marketing strategy. Understanding the basics of editorial calendars is essential for success in any creative industry.

What Is an Editorial Calendar?

An editorial calendar is a tool used for planning the creation and publication of content across media channels. Editorial calendars provide a centralized location for the due dates of all elements in a content marketing campaign, including blog posts, social media posts, video content, advertising, and other published material.

Some career fields and industries that regularly utilize editorial calendars include:

  • Website content creators and bloggers
  • Social media managers and influencers
  • Public relations
  • Corporate communications
  • Book publishing
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers

Editorial calendars can take various formats, depending on the needs of the content creators and publishers. However, nearly all editorial calendars contain a list of planned content and the dates when each piece of content will be published. Due dates for related activities, like promotional campaigns, typically appear on an editorial calendar.

What Are the Benefits of Editorial Calendars?

Using an editorial calendar offers content creators, promoters, and managers several benefits, including:

A centralized location for project tracking
Editors and content managers review and track the progress of writers and other team members with editorial calendars. With a centralized location for project tracking, editorial calendars streamline the content creation workflow and help ensure work is completed on time.

Resource allocation
Most implementations of an editorial calendar will note the team members assigned to a piece of content and the due date, which helps with resource allocation. Each team member can also see the tasks their co-workers are assigned to, promoting a better understanding of the content creation workflow.

Workflow optimization
When an entire team can refer to an editorial calendar for assignments and deadlines, there is less confusion among the group. Editorial calendars clarify who works on what, when the work is due, and which projects are related. This results in an optimized workflow, with everyone doing their part on a timely basis.

Image credit: Pixabay

What Are the Different Editorial Calendar Formats?

In a time before personal computers, most editorial calendars had one of two formats. One uses a standard monthly calendar, with project due dates and assignments noted on specific dates. The other format resembles a standard list of projects, with deadlines and assigned staff included in each entry.

Today, many apps and tools exist for creating editorial calendars in various formats. Here are some of the most popular editorial calendar formats:

Content calendars

A content calendar is a type of editorial calendar commonly seen in content management software. Content calendars collect project assignment and deadline data, providing team members with a flexible view of the content to be created over a specific period. Content calendars are well-suited for teams that focus strictly on content and not related activities like advertising and promotion.

Online calendar apps

Many businesses use online and cloud business suites, such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, that feature an online calendar app. It"s common for publishing, content marketing, and public relations organizations to use these apps as editorial calendars. In these scenarios, some online calendar apps have to-do lists and task management features, which can be an excellent way to share a list of projects among multiple team members.

Spreadsheet editorial calendars

Since spreadsheet apps are typically included in business suites, they have also become a popular method for creating editorial calendars. Creating column headers for project titles, due dates, and assigned team members in a spreadsheet is a basic method for capturing the essential data in an editorial calendar. Online spreadsheet apps offer easy sharing with both internal teams and external shareholders, along with sorting by due date or other criteria.

Editorial Calendar Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about editorial calendars:

Who is responsible for creating an editorial calendar?
In the world of print publishing, an editor-in-chief or managing editor traditionally creates editorial calendars. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. In general, whoever is responsible for assigning content work will also manage the editorial calendar. Coming up with the list of content is often a collaborative process, with many ideas submitted and then narrowed down. With so many forms of content creation today, each organization should find the editorial calendar creation process that best suits its industry and workplace culture.

Are editorial calendars and content calendars the same?
Although the terms "editorial calendar" and "content calendar" are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. A content calendar is one type of editorial calendar with a narrow focus on published content, such as blog posts, social media posts, or videos. An editorial calendar has a much broader scope, as it not only covers content but also planning and promotional efforts around the content. Content calendars usually focus on a short timeframe — a month or even a week. On the other hand, editorial calendars tend to encompass a whole year, mapping out a high-level strategy.

Is an editorial calendar the same thing as an editorial strategy?
An organization"s editorial strategy is mapped out on its editorial calendar. Given this, it"s easy to see how some might conflate "editorial strategy" and "editorial calendar." The same can be said of "content strategy" and "content calendar." It"s important to think of the calendar as the roadmap for the strategy but not the strategy itself. Strategic planning is a skill and business process in itself, and simply creating an editorial calendar can"t capture the complexity of a well-defined strategy. An editorial strategy is best conveyed in a narrative format rather than in a series of calendar entries.

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