You are ready to implement an editorial calendar, but what should it look like? What software should you use? There’s no one-size-fits-all. Here are three questions to help you make the right choice for your nonprofit.
1. What Is It That We Can’t See Now?
Editorial calendars can help solve lots of problems. But it’s helpful to know which are the most important problems to solve at your nonprofit right now. What’s not working in your current process for creating, approving, and publishing content?
In most organizations, there’s usually something that the communications team is having a hard time seeing or keeping track of, and that’s leading to confusion and chaos. Are you losing track of communications channels? Are certain topics not getting adequate attention? Are you creating too much original content and not repurposing enough?
Think about the specific problems a new editorial calendar could help you solve and make sure the software you choose allows you to tackle that problem head on.
2. Do I Have Calendar Brain or Spreadsheet Brain?
This is all about personal preference. Would you like to see your communications channels and topics on a calendar, where you see it week to week and month to month? Or would you rather see it all at once in a spreadsheet, organized into rows and columns?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but your preference, and the preferences of others on your team, will influence which tools you use to create your editorial calendar.
If you aren’t sure about your preferences, I highly recommend experimenting with both to find what works best for you. It’s as simple as playing around with the spreadsheet and calendar functions in whatever office productivity software package your organization already uses (e.g. G Suite by Google, Office by Microsoft).
3. Just How Much Do I Want to Regularly Track?
One of the common mistakes we see nonprofits make when setting up an editorial calendar for the first time is trying to track too much information. The act of updating the editorial calendar becomes a burden that sucks up time, rather than making you feel smarter and more efficient.
That said, if you are working with many different content creators or have several levels of review and approval to navigate before you can publish content, you will likely want to step up to a project management tool. Spreadsheet brains might like SmartSheet, for example. If you prefer calendars and to-do lists where you can check things off, look at Asana. If you are constantly adjusting and want something very visual, give Trello a look. If you want all your content in one place, regardless of which channels it will end up in, you might like CoSchedule.
But don’t feel like you need to upgrade to these tools! You might find that your regular office software does exactly what you need, without all the extra bells and whistles.
Ultimately the software you pick for your editorial calendar isn’t as important as the fact that you are regularly using one!