If your website has outdated information, your social media feeds aren’t fresh, and team members are unclear about who’s accountable for content, then start working with an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar itemizes the content you need to create, edit and disseminate or eliminate. I use a shared Excel spreadsheet or you can use an online software tool for more complicated needs. Either way, the calendar systematizes communications for everyone who handles content.

The practice of scheduling who is accountable for what content is fairly simple. Your editorial calendar should be fairly simple, too, or people will resist using it. With a larger team, you may want to appoint a calendar champion to embrace the software and trains others to use it.

The editorial calendar facilitates coordination. Enewsletters and social media posts are consistent and yet, don’t bump into each other. Any team across the organization can see what’s in the works. This makes the boss is happy knowing that departments are working together to promote the business in a consistent and timely way.

See below for an example; it’s for digital communications but you can add print items as well. You may want to add a column for SEO keywords or notes.

An editorial calendar helps everyone stay on track, not just the writers

Surprisingly, this schedule can keep an entire organization on track. Business decisions drive the content and the content depends on the completion of many business activities; there otherwise is nothing to write or share.

For instance, a conference date and location have to be confirmed before the tweets and enewsletter go out. A new service has to be thought through before a writer can explain the benefits. A product has to be ready for shipment before it’s announced on Facebook.

The following is a simple calendar. I prefer to list things by date for a few weeks at a time; it’s easy to glance through and syncs with the current activities of the content team. For my clients, digital communication plans can change on a dime, too.

You certainly can schedule a lot farther out but make sure your dates are grounded in reality or you’ll end up wasting time reworking the calendar and not the actual content work.