At LightBox Collaborative we’re big fans of fostering a staff that communicates. Team members across our 8098008837_efbfaa51ea_zorganizations are all communicating all the time; engaging in conversations across multiple platforms, working among multiple audiences to build credibility and influence for our causes.

But when you’re cultivating a staff that communicates, someone has to coordinate – and the role of communications staff becomes part coach and part air traffic controller. Your top priority becomes aligning your team to make sure the organization’s content sends a consistent and timely message – and that can be a daunting task! How do you ensure messages the development team is sharing with prospects relate to what program staff members are tweeting about? And how do you take advantage of ready-made opportunities to insert your organization into conversations already happening out there in the world beyond your office?

To achieve both those goals – coordination and timeliness – we recommend an editorial calendar.

Download your very own copy of our annual Editorial Calendar Template.

This is our 6th annual editorial calendar template tool, and every year it’s chock-full of hooks, anniversaries, and other milestones to help you create relevant and compelling content, coordinated across your organization. This year, based on feedback from our community of users, we’ve revised the structure to make coordination across multiple channels – from email outreach to your website – even more straightforward. We’ve added relevant hashtags for key events to make it easier for you to spread your message  via social media.. And since 2016 is a presidential election year, this year’s editorial calendar is replete with opportunities in the election cycle to insert your organization’s priorities.

Of course, any tool is only useful if it makes your job easier. So how can the 2016 editorial calendar support you in aligning communications efforts across your team? Here’s the process you can start now for a coordinated content strategy in 2016:

  1. Download the editorial calendar (following the instructions in the first tab) and take an initial pass through to personalize and tailor to your organization, editing out hooks and dates that aren’t relevant to your organization and inserting those that are. Be sure to add in any specific dates that are immediately apparent, such as fundraising galas, program milestones or conferences where organizational leaders will be speaking.
  2. Host a blog sprint (or other content-creation opportunity) for your team to get their creative juices flowing in real time. Have an open brainstorm first, and then build those ideas into your shared editorial calendar. We’ve left several rows open at the top of each month’s listings to encourage you to work in your own creative ideas and relevant hooks first!
  3. House your editorial calendar in a place that’s accessible across your team, such as your shared server or organizational Google drive. The trick is to ensure it’s accessible and easy to use for anyone and everyone on your team who’s engaged in content creation. Monthly or weekly, put the editorial calendar on the agenda for your regular staff meeting, and check in on your content plans frequently across your team.
  4. Make sure others charged with content creation – and those who want you to create content – see and hear you referring to this coordinating tool. If a coworker asks you to send out an e-blast, ask if they’ve checked the editorial calendar to see if there’s already a mailing scheduled. This reinforces the importance of coordinated approaches – and it reinforces the editorial calendar as the key coordinating tool across your team.

Let us know how you’ve adapted the editorial calendar for your organization – and how this tool has helped you share more timely and aligned content across channels. We’re all ears!

Photo courtesy of flickr user Rob Swystun

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isobelLightBox Collaborator Isobel White frequently helps clients craft content strategy to align their communications efforts, and loves having this handy-dandy tool to start from!