Communications Toolbox: Content Calendars
By Janis Greenbaum, Director of Communications
The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri
I encourage everyone who works in church communications to become a member of Episcopal Communicators. This is a self-supporting organization of communication professionals working in the Episcopal Church for dioceses, congregations and organizations. The group's mission is to foster community that inspires and supports excellence in church communications. dues are $75 a year -- and worth every penny!
Episcopal Communicators held their annual conference May 3-5, 2022 in Savannah, Georgia. The conference is a chance to meet with and learn from other communicators and experts in many different areas of church communications. This was the first in-person conference since the pandemic. And of course, there was also a virtual option to attend -- which is what I opted for this year.
One of the workshops I found most helpful focused on content calendars and was led by Katie Clark from the Dioceses of Maine and New Hampshire. I have been looking for new ways to get myself and my work organized and I am excited to try some of the practices she shared. Here's a little of what I learned....
Content calendars are a schedule of where, when and how you plan to publish upcoming content. As Katie told us in the workshop, content calendars provide long-term consistency, structure and strategy.
You can use many different kinds of tools you can use for your calendar -- from a white board or sticky notes on your wall, to a variety of digital platforms now available. Using a calendar-based platform provides a 50,000-foot view, giving you an easy way to see and manage your projects and even find where you may have holes in your planning.
Start with a big view. Think about what you want to say, who your audience is, what you want people to remember about your church (this goes back to the strategic planning ideas I discussed a few months ago). Before you begin to "plot" projects on your calendar, take an inventory:
- What are your content themes?
Events, seasons, conventions, holidays, prayers, stewardship, etc. -- content that happens throughout the year; not just one-and-done events
- What are your content assets?
Blogs, podcasts, video, newsletters, church bulletins, sermons, church history, etc. -- content that you're already creating that can be repurposed in different ways.
- What are your content platforms?
Website, social media, newsletters, printed publications, roadside signs/banners, podcasts, etc. -- where can you be to meet your audience where they are, not just where you are comfortable?
As you consider all these things, plot your content on the calendar and fill in the details -- who, what, when, where, why, how.
One of the best things about content calendars is that they are shareable. If you use a whiteboard, a wall calendar, or sticky notes, you'll need to bring people to your office, which is not always convenient. That's a definite pro for digital calendars. Share them with your team -- anyone you are collaborating with. Share them with your staff -- consider reviewing your content calendar once a month or quarterly to keep everyone aware of what's going on (and remind them of their contributions to the projects).
As I mentioned earlier, there are many digital platforms available for this work. Many people already use Google calendars -- they're one of the easiest to use. You can also create calendars on Microsoft Excel. There are also project management platforms like Trello and Airtable that come highly recommended. Platforms like HootSuite allow you to create and schedule your social media all in one place, which can save time and keep you organized. I encourage you to search for content calendars or project management online to check out the options.
Content calendars are a way for you to keep yourself and everyone you work with on task. And most importantly, they can provide consistency in your work. Everything is in one place, which allows you to be a better manager. We can create space on our calendars to store ideas for later and to measure the success or response of our projects. Of course, no matter how organized we are, we always need to be flexible and allow our work to change and grow as the Spirit moves in and through us!
Are you using a content calendar? I'd love to hear from you!