boost_your_voiceLast year, we offered an editorial calendar designed to support nonprofit communicators to act as their own publishers. Over the course of the past year we have continued to test this format with our clients and refine it. And, now, we are excited to present the new and improved editorial calendar for 2012.

Earned Media is Dead

OK, reports of the death of traditional media may be greatly exaggerated. There are still reporters out there with column inches to fill, but far less of them than there used to be. But many causes and organizations are finding that it’s a lot harder to get picked up in the local paper and/or the national news than it used to be. And traditional media coverage is now increasingly driven by conversation and content that starts off in the online space, on the communications platforms and channels driven by nonprofits themselves.

Content is King

So long live new media, which places your nonprofit organization in the driver’s seat. From email blasts to Facebook pages, in many cases it’s now nonprofits that find themselves with channels in need of content. Given the proliferation of low-cost tools, your nonprofit can spark conversation, share your message and advance your cause all on your own terms. But it takes content: you’ve got to feed those media platforms and seed those conversations. Relevant, compelling content attracts new advocates to your cause and deepens relationships with constituents, all without relying on a reporter to relay your message.

Align Your Team

Now that your nonprofit is the publisher managing your own communications channels, an editorial calendar can be a great way to manage your content pipeline. Our 2012 editorial calendar is presented as a Google spreadsheet. Each month has its own tab containing LightBox Collaborative’s ideas on 2012’s opportunities for your organization to share ideas and information and generate conversation.  We’ve included red-letter dates to help spark your creativity on the conversations that will advance your cause via new media and traditional media opportunities. Download a copy and customize with calendar hooks, program dates, events and other important dates that your organization can leverage for successful communications.

Tailor the Tool

As you map out your work plan for the year ahead, we recommend you also augment our list with a review of your organization’s 2012 work plans to identify key areas of focus. These can be gold mines of content for your communications platforms. At an upcoming staff meeting, you might create a chart for each month and post it around the room, then ask staff to mark key dates on the charts – including events, conferences, key issues up for consideration in the legislature, or program milestones. This way, your editorial calendar becomes a tool your entire staff can use to ensure that your communications efforts are in line with and supportive of your day-to-day work, which creates alignment and efficiency in your efforts for the year ahead.

Let us know what dates you think we should have on the 2012 radar. We look forward to hearing your tips on how you customized your 2012 editorial calendar.

(Image courtesy Flickr user theparadigmshifter, Creative Commons)

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Holly Minch is LightBox Collaborative’s chief engineer and founder.