December 20, 2014

Pros and Cons of a Forward Facing Editorial Calendar

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forward facing editorial calendar

Editorial calendars have been recommended for companies looking to improve their content strategy for many years. They help companies stay organized (particularly when you’re working with a multi-author blog and produce a lot of content), and they make it easier to lay out your vision, which can help ensure that the content you’re publishing is relevant and timely.

You always know who is in charge of writing, publishing, and sharing, and can therefore hold your employees accountable. What could go wrong?

If you have someone responsible in charge of your editorial calendar and everyone is on the same page with how it works, there aren’t too many things you’ll find confusing. However, you have to ask yourself whether or not you want a forward facing calendar.

In other words, should you share your calendar with your entire writing staff, or will that hurt your team to know your plans?

Pros and Cons to a Forward Facing Editorial Calendar

I first heard the term forward facing editorial calendar from a CopyPress article, and it really does pose an interesting question. Many companies assume that part of the benefit of the calendar is to make sure the entire staff can see what the plans are for the future, but the truth is that this isn’t always the case. You have to also determine whether or not you want to share the calendar with contributors not on staff, so there are different layers to consider.

Below lists a few pros as well as a few cons to the idea:

Pros to a Forward Facing Editorial Calendar

  • Less questions. Your staff and contributors won’t need to constantly be asking you when something will be published because they can see the schedule.
  • Extra help with promotion. As a publisher, you want to always make sure that someone knows if his/her article went live so that he/she can promote the article and subsequently promote your site. If the writer can see the schedule, it takes pressure off of you to remember to let them know in a timely manner.
  • Staff can collaborate. If your writers can see what others are writing about, it will help them make sure they are not duplicating anything. This will save you time when it comes to approving story ideas because the writers should know what topics are off limits.
  • Extra functionalities. Editorial calendars can also offer lots of different options depending on the system you use, including having writers submit their content to the calendar or leave notes. This eliminates lots of emails and keeps everything in one place.

Transparency for other departments. Sometimes other departments in your company want to post something on the blog (such as a job posting) or want writers to write on a particular subject they may be getting asked about a lot. This means that other departments will want to know when these things will published, so a forward facing calendar will help accomplish that.

Cons to a Forward Facing Editorial Calendar

  • Confusing changes. Editorial calendars change constantly. Many writers don’t meet their deadlines, two writers may write about the same topic, other writers may just ignore their responsibility altogether, etc. These changes mean you will need to switch around when articles are published. But if a writer is expecting their article to go live one day and then sees a sudden change to a later date, you could have an earful of annoying, impatient, or confused writers.
  • Confusing due dates. If you set a due date for a writer but he/she sees that the article isn’t going live until a much later date (especially if you had to make changes), you could have confusion and writers thinking they have more time than they actually do. You need to be in charge of when to set due dates without outside opinion in order to stay sane.
  • Stealing could occur. If you are sharing your calendar with a lot of people, particularly those who are just guest contributors, you could have others stealing your ideas or making notes about your link building strategy.

The Verdict Regarding a Forward Facing Editorial Calendar

As with all verdicts, it depends completely on your company and how your content strategy works. However, the general consensus seems to be coming up with a calendar that actually falls into both categories.

In other words, it usually makes the most sense to have a forward facing calendar with everyone on your staff, but it isn’t necessary to have this kind of transparency with guest contributors and those from other companies.

Not having this open to your guest contributors may cause you to run into some of the problems above. You might get a lot of emails about publish dates, you may not get as many original ideas, etc. But it’s much better in the long run because you know that your due dates will always be taken seriously and any stealing worries are put to rest.

Calendar Photo via Shutterstock

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5 Reactions

  1. As the person who in charge of content creation at InTouch (check out our blog: http://www.intouchcrm.com/blog/) I can say that Editorial calendars have helped me a lot. They are great for not only scheduling content, but also ensuring that we have new material on the blog at regular intervals, ensuring that the weekly topics are coordinated, and most importantly avoiding the writer’s block stage. It is not nice to end up staring a blank page wondering what to write about.

    So yes, editorial calendars are useful. However it is important to stay open. The calendars are there to help you and guide you, not restrain you. If there is a certain trending topic you want to discuss, or a major event has occurred, by all means, forget about your editorial schedule and dive into what readers want to read about. Flexibility and staying open is key!

  2. Also, putting your content on a calendar doesn’t really give you enough space to create your own topics from your imagination. It is organized but it is somehow restricting. With this, it may even be better to just think of ideas on the fly especially if you’re working with a smaller business.

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