How To Choose the Right Tool for Your Editorial Calendar
Have you ever left an editorial or content planning session feeling fired up to execute? But then everyone forgets who needs to do what and when — and then all those great story ideas and fleshed-out timelines fall by the wayside? Next thing you know, you’re in yet another meeting laying out plans that you vaguely remember from last time. You can avoid this sort of fizzling. All you need are the right editorial calendaring tools.
You’ll want to pick the right-sized tools based on an assessment of your team’s needs in three key areas: collaboration, reporting and retrospection.
1. Collaboration: Working Well Together
If collaboration is your chief editorial concern, Trello is a great tool.
Does your team have a lot of due dates, review cycles and publishing timelines to keep track of? Building an editorial calendar within Trello may be right for you — especially if you tap business leaders and cross-functional team members to support various communications. Trello allows you to give your leaders an inside look into real-time progress of your editorial calendar with their tagging, assignment and commenting features.
Here’s why Trello supports content collaboration so well:
- In Trello, you can assign tasks. Doing this will enable two-way communication regarding the different communications you have planned.
- Let’s say you need to push back the launch date for the benefits enrollment reminder, the tool will notify the assignee once you change the date. Or imagine that you would like to reach out for a status check on a draft, but can’t remember who is responsible. A task management tool will store all that information.
- There’s a comment feature that allows teams to share information and correspondence in real-time and store it all in one place.
- And finally, as with any editorial calendar, you want to be able to track status. In Trello, content owners can document and share their progress in real-time. No more putting time on folks’ calendars just to hear about where the content is sitting. You can simply pull up your summary view and see which comms might be classified as “blocked” or “in progress.”
Trello’s editorial calendar template is a great framework to try out!
2. Documentation: Reporting Up and Out
If your team operates within a larger organization, or partners with other communicators within the company, you likely need to report on your progress and stay in sync on editorial planning. An editorial calendar report can communicate to leaders the number of touchpoints delivered in each month, the audiences who may be at risk of inundation and the topics being discussed. A web-based tool can easily automate this type of reporting.
Here’s why Asana supports editorial documentation so well:
- Tools like Asana have automated reports that can be set up to run on a pre-determined schedule. This tool has an easy-to-use function to create reports from your editorial calendar.
- You can share the total content pieces for the month and how many were on-time, delayed and canceled. You can also set up a report to show the spread of topics for a given month or highlight a week that has too many comms going out! The possibilities are truly endless.
- Let’s say your IC team needs to share your plans in a monthly meeting with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). You can set up an automated report to be delivered to your inbox on the 20th of every month. The data will come from the plan, and you can make the appropriate adjustments, share the report with your team in preparation, and have a neat and tidy summary to share with the CMO. Gone are the days of manual reports and summary creation!
Asana’s annual planning template is a great place to start for your content planning needs!
3. Retrospection: Looking Back
A common pitfall with editorial planning is loss of historical information. With a web-based tool, information lives on forever. If you find yourself combing through Slack, email, or your files to try and figure out how effective your plan was, or even what the plan was, — this is a feature you should be looking for.
Here’s why Smartsheet supports content retrospection so well:
- Smartsheet, for example, has a dashboard feature that allows you to see aggregated data around the timeliness of publications, the spread of responsibility across functional areas, and the time commitment needed from your teams.
- Smartsheet allows you to visualize editorial planning data based on timelines and topic parameters that you select.
Check out Smartsheet’s editorial calendar template to test out their dashboards!
So What’s Next
Now that you know how to assess your needs, you can start to noodle on which is most pressing and zero in on a tool. What’s great is that each of the tools mentioned has a template editorial calendar to help you get started!
Our go-to at Brilliant Ink is Smartsheet! We use it for all of our project and communications planning. We’ve even brought some clients into the Smartsheet fold. If you’d like some more information on how to onboard a new calendar tool, set up some time with us!