Nothing feels more awful than getting up in the morning and realizing you have no idea what to write. Fortunately, there is a solution. Create a communications calendar and you’ll never have that feeling again.
You can create a communications calendar in five easy steps.
Step one: open up your favorite calendar tool. Outlook, Google Calendar, a specially designed piece of software or a paper calendar with pictures of puppies every month: it doesn’t matter, as long as it works for you.
Step two: think of seasonal topics. Back-to-school, Fall, Winter, New Year, Spring, Summer. National holidays like Thanksgiving and Independence Day. If appropriate, religious holidays like Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, or Ramadan. Heating season, if you provide heating assistance. Camping season, if you do summer camps. Mark each topic on your calendar at the right time to be talking about it.
Step three: find the hook that will make each topic a real story, one that’s interesting to your audience. Back-to-school is not a story in itself. “What you need to know about your child’s first day at our preschool” is a story! Mark that on your calendar.
Step four: now think of events your organization is holding. Fundraising events, friend-raising events, community forums, advocacy days at the statehouse. Put those on your calendar too, and find the hook for each one.
Step five: think of campaigns your organization is launching at specific times of the year. Are you registering people to vote? Signing them up for low-cost bank accounts? Creating sports teams? Put those activities on the calendar, too, along with the hook that will make your audience want to read about each one.
What You Can Do with Your Calendar (and what it can do for you)
Now, your calendar is full of ideas and specific ways to present them. That means:
- You can work on them in advance. Get photos, line up interviews, look up statistics…whatever you need for the post can be done ahead of time instead of at the last minute.
- You can coordinate your messaging. Your blog, your social media postings, your newsletter, and even your face-to-face meetings with supporter can all reinforce the same message, so people are more likely to grasp it and retain it.
- You can improvise. It’s easier to improvise when you already have a plan in place. If a hurricane strikes, or one of your issues trends in the news, or if you receive a visit from Michelle Obama or the Pope, of course you can put that into your calendar. You’ll be in the perfect position to decide whether to delay a previously scheduled topic or just post more often.
What do you put on your communications calendar? Is there something that you post about that makes you stand out from most other organizations?