It's time of year when calendars crowd out books and magazines in bookstores and are even on sale at reduced prices. But there’s a special kind of calendar that all good public relations professionals use – editorial calendar.
According to Shannon Cherry, using editorial calendars is one of most effective, yet most overlooked tool in a publicist’s toolkit. “Most people avoid using editorial calendars because it takes some time to research and compile,” she says. “The top PR professionals do this every year and I’ve personally found that outcomes are well worth time – especially when you end up getting featured in a key article in a major publication.” Cherry is president of Cherry Communications (www.cherrycommunications.com), a public relations and marketing firm which helps small businesses, consultants and entrepreneurs to be heard.
Except for year and names of months, these calendars bear little resemblance to glossy hang-up calendars in stores. No swimsuit-clad models, lush scenery, puppies, kittens or cartoons of Dilbert. Editorial calendars are usually bare-bones lists of upcoming issue topics and major features – or at least cover stories or special sections. Not much to look at – unless you're a PR pro trying to crack that market.
“That's because knowing what publications have in store allows you to tailor your pitches, news releases and articles to particular issues,” says Cherry. “Helping editors and journalists by providing stories they need earns you goodwill and increased attention.”
Editorial calendars are basically telling you exactly what information they need for each issue. “If you can spin your own story to match what media is looking for, then you have a great chance of being featured in that publication,” she says.
A current editorial calendar can usually be found in advertising section at publication's website. If you can’t find it there, contact publications marketing/sales department and ask them to email/snail mail it to you.