Work Smarter, Not Harder: Building an Editorial Calendar

Best Practices, Maren Hogan

Branding and Marketing have lots in common. Numero Uno? They all run on content. If marketing and branding campaigns are the car, then content my friends is the fuel.

For our purposes today, content includes, of course, blog posts, but also literally anything your audience can consume:

  • Resource List
  • Ratings
  • Hidden Thought
  • Research Focused
  • Series
  • Product Spotlight
  • Mini Case Study
  • Industry Spotlight
  • Now and Then
  • Shopping List
  • Opinion
  • Reasons
  • Infographic
  • Podcast Post
  • Video Post
  • Stats Piece/Brief
  • Quote Based
  • GIF Post
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Trend Pieces
  • Newsjacking
  • Pop Culture Tie-In
  • How To (at least 3 steps)
  • 10x (long as HEEEELL)
  • Example (at least 3)
  • Fight Club
  • Q+A (can be faked)
  • Why
  • Comparison/versus
  • Roundup
  • Metaphor
  • Personal Story
  • Predictions
  • Fails!
  • Guides
  • Worksheets
  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • Podcast
  • Tear sheets
  • Listicles
  • Diaries
  • One Graphic
  • Diagram
  • Meme
  • Posters
  • Comics
  • Cartoons
  • Screenshots
  • GIFs
  • Illustrations
  • Handwritten things
  • Polls
  • Surveys
  • Quizzes
  • Video
  • Webinar
  • Presentations
  • Photo Galleries
  • FAQs
  • Recaps (events/twitter chat)
  • Placed articles
  • Press releases

And more! Any I forgot?

Who Are You Writing For?

So let’s start with a quick focus on who you’re writing FOR. At RBM, we build out pretty complex buyer personas, which focus on who this person is, what they do all day and what issues keep them up at night.

How can you build the best editorial calendar? @marenhogan shares the best kept secrets. Click To Tweet

Personas are more than just demographic information. They rely heavily on research and common sense. We don’t have enough time today to go into what happens with buyer personas and precisely how to create them but here’s a shortcut:

Casting Call: picture your new hire as if they were in a movie. What would their perfect onscreen doppelganger do? What kind of attitude would they have? Most importantly where are they RIGHT NOW? Stuck in a dead-end job? Desperate for leadership experience and focus? Feeling overlooked at a safe but unfulfilling job? How old are they? What level of education do they have? Who do they report to? How are their results measured?

Forensic Evidence: Once I’ve created a sketch of my persona, I go through LinkedIn profiles to see what his or her colleagues do, read, how long they’ve been in a certain position, what groups they’re in, the works. This can really help you figure out what sort of articles, podcasts or videos might appeal to them. It can also give you solid insight into their retention numbers and what sort of recommendations ideal candidates might receive. You can get an idea of schools these folks went to, what kind of hobbies they might have and more. I always use an amalgamation of traits to get a good picture.

Write the script: This is the fun part. Try to figure out what makes them tick, use the info gleaned from people like them to gauge whether they listen to Spotify or Pandora, value work-life balance over money or are due for a move in the next six months. Does this person get along with superiors or might they want to work alone? Ask yourself anything, and then attempt to answer it. I give our personas a name. I try to imagine where they grew up, what is valuable to them and then fill in what channels are most likely to reach them wherever they are (online or IRL).

THIS is the first step to ensuring your content is created with the candidate in mind and increases your chances of attracting and engaging them with said content.

Candidate personas should be top of mind when creating social recruitment messages, reaching out in emails and creating job advertisements.

The next step in marketer speak is to align your buyer personas with the sales stages. We do this in marketing to create content that reaches the person at the right time, and this can be applied to your candidates too. The passive to active spectrum is ever-growing as technology is giving candidates more options than ever before. In content marketing, the sales stages are Awareness, Consideration and Decision.

  • Awareness of the company and open role
  • Consideration to apply for the role
  • Decision to move forward with the interview process

Now these 3 stages can be aligned with your candidate personas, like this:

Candidate Persona Awareness Apply Decision
Persona 1
Persona 2
Persona 3


Awareness

How do you get candidates to even know about your company and the positions it’s offering? You use:

  • Short videos (funny and informational)
  • GIF/list posts (think Buzzfeed-style)
  • Quora/answering questions
  • Reddit/posting in relevant groups
  • Memes
  • Comics
  • Quizzes

Basically, all the fun stuff! Remember, these don’t have to be specifically about your company or too promotional. You don’t have to overtly have your logo and mentions of your company plastered everywhere. If you create great content it will do the talking for your brand.

Consideration

How do you get candidates to start applying for a role at your company? What do they need to know? What are they most concerned with? Do your research! So they see you’re super cool but have you told them what real people at your company are like? What they’ll be expected to do? Have you profiled that marketing superstar that never graduated high school or that Comicon addict who’s the best finance analyst you know? They know who you are, now show them why THEY should be part of YOU.

  • Infographics showing your makeup (diversity, depts they may not know about)
  • Blog articles about great work or fun projects
  • Quote Posts
  • Employee Testimonials/Showcases
  • Q & As
  • Personal Employee Stories
  • FAQs
  • Behind the scenes peek (employees, the HR department, company parties)

Decision

What resources do they need to help them move forward? Give them everything they need to make them feel confident moving forward. This serves a couple of purposes. One, they’ve already given you a pass but now if they’ve applied, you’re competing with other, faster organizations. So how can you stand out? Well, detailed explanations of compensation, your hierarchy (or lack thereof) and of course, useful information.

Numero Dos? Providing this information beforehand can help them self-select out of the process. If you publicly share a diagram of your organizational chart and the ebbs and flow of each department, you’re helping a candidate who is looking for a flat organization self-select out of the process before you waste your time screening and interviewing them. Get that information out there with these:

  • How To (at least 3 steps)
  • Comparison/versus (Why we’re better than the other guys)
  • Guides (How to be a successful FILL IN THE BLANK)
  • Worksheets
  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • Diagrams
  • Reviews

A key goal here is to create content that not only attracts those who have already applied but is still relevant for those earlier in the funnel. As we all know the candidate experience doesn’t stop with the apply or even the offer letter. So start building past just attraction and seal the deal. What if you put your offer letter, swag intro, employee reviews or even interview scheduling emails into your editorial calendar? It’s what marketers do, right down to the last three stages of that funnel we discussed.

  • Retention – Keep em in the process
  • Renewal – Beat your competition to the offer and onboarding
  • Sales Enablement – Give your managers the tools they need to seal the deal

A great example of this is a little booklet I stumbled across a few years ago on how to break into web development. This was geared to be of help to a new graphic design or web developer and as soon as I downloaded it, I received a follow up from the person managing TA at the company.

Other examples include packing checklists for traveling nurses, interview guides for career centers in target schools, goal setting workbooks for management candidates and more. We all need a little help doing our job and many of us find it on the internet. Once you start creating candidate focused downloadables you will have a much better chance of attracting new applicants.

Now we’re ALMOST ready to start filling those little squares in. But we have to do a few more things to do first.

Alignment in Industry: If you are recruiting in a specific field or industry, it may make sense for you to grab the editorial calendars of those professional associations. While you may never publish in them or purchase ads, knowing which areas they are covering for the coming year may give you ideas about how to structure your own calendar.

Competitive Intel and Research: First, there is nothing your competitor is doing that you cannot do better. It’s a maxim I live by. So find out what they are doing? No one in your competitive realm trying to kill em with content? Then look to someone from another industry who is doing so. If I may make a suggestion, try the medical recruiting industry. They work their butts off shining a light on their candidates and recruiting them with videos, contests, social media — you name it. Also remember those groups I told you to pay attention to when you were scoping LI for your personas? Now’s the time to head in and see what all the fuss is about. Which articles are they clicking and liking, which influencers do they follow, which online communities are their watering holes of choice? I literally copy and paste links into an inspire section of our calendar.

THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT TO READ/WATCH/CONSUME

Events: Your editorial calendar for hiring is NOTHING without events underpinning it. When are you headed to recruiting events? When did product say you’d need an influx of data entry people? How full is your campus recruiting schedule? And this isn’t just about actual events but also about historical data. What have been your high and low points of the last year or three years? People often build out calendars like schedules and they are NOT, you simply don’t need as much content in August as you do in March.

Take inventory of recruiting content you already have. In some cases, re-optimizing a page on your career site, or building a new opener for a corporate video can instantly repurpose content and fill a hole in your ed cal.

Okay, got all that? Now let’s talk structure. We use Google Sheets for our editorial calendars but there are plenty of plugins if you’re a HubSpot or WordPress user you can use, especially if you’re only managing one blog or set of social tools:

Step 1: The funnel build

  • Lay out your personas on the left. Yours can be role based or they might be seniority based, but make sure they each have their own line for every stage of the cycle.
  • Build your stages across the top. This gives your content a linear feel and makes it easier to fill in the blanks. Awareness, Consideration, and Decision if you want to start simple and Interview, Hire, and Onboard if you wanna get crazy.
  • Select your content types. At RBM, we use little acronyms for all of them because there are a lot. We just create a large space above the calendar to spell out what they all mean. Pro Tip: If they’re all blog posts, you’re doing it wrong 🙂
  • Under each section, write a question your persona might ask. This can help you determine if the content you place there later is actually helpful or you just wanna be done with this whole exercise already.
  • Fill in content types until you have all the blanks completed and a solid cycle or piece of content in each section. You don’t have to fill every square (although it will make your job easier later) but you do need to make sure you’re hitting every stage and substage. This is a great place to add your inspire links.

Make a duplicate of our very own content funnel and start building away!

EXAMPLE
Top of Funnel Middle of Funnel Bottom of Funnel Interview Hire & Onboard Internal
Awareness Consideration Decision Retention Renewal Sales Enablement
List the issues, challenges, and questions that each candidate would have. Click Bait Articles Targeting All Personas Content Focused More Specifically on Depts & Roles Within the Company Downloadable Resources to Capture Emails Keep the candidates in the process Beat your competition to the offer and onboarding Give your managers the tools they need to seal the deal
Candidate Persona 1
Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3
Issue 4


Step 2: The Ed Cal Build

NOW we can use this to build your editorial calendar!

  • Build campaign ideas. At RBM we build out a campaign for every month or so. Use the info gleaned from both your hiring research and the editorial calendars you collected earlier. Depending on how often you plan on releasing content, you may want to include social updates and imagery in this section. 
  • Separate them out using one of the following criteria:
    • Month
    • Time to Hire
    • Quarterly hiring goals
  • It will be very tough to create content for every persona in every stage every month, so keep in mind that awareness and even consideration content can serve dual purposes. For example, a video you create for one persona in the awareness section might be just the thing to send someone in the decision phase. Or your blog post about the engineering team could be exciting to someone applying to your marketing department.

Check out our Editorial Calendar for you to duplicate and start using today! 

Publish Date Status Title Author/ Tone Focus Keyword Document Link/ Published Link
Month, Year Campaign Name
Week 1 Published
Week 2 Scheduled
Week 3 Needs Approval
Week 4 Copy in Progress
  • At the top add your internal code (ours is color coded and reads: written, internally approved, sent to client, client approved, published)
  • In the space at the top, you should also list your authors and what categories, tone and topics they cover.
  • Now add your month, campaign name and days and dates along the side (this is important because some days are better to publish on and you’ll be adding in events later).
  • If you’d like to add the resource type. These are the little codes that tell you what kind of content it is. Hint! You can repurpose an article into a podcast and a stats brief into a video! Gasp.
  • The next column should contain your headlines: Whether it’s the headline of a blog article, a video, a subject line, social message or guide, it has to follow a successful formula. And we ALWAYS choose to turn to research…

Outbrain conducted a study of 150,000 article headlines to see which characteristics got the most clicks. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Titles with eight words had the highest click-through rates and performed 21% better than average.
  • Using a colon or hyphen to indicate a subtitle improves headlines by 9% (hint: this is where the #3 tip – increasing length – can come into play).
  • Attach an image to increase clicks by 27%, and make sure the image size is optimized for social feeds.
  • Use numbers in your headline to increase the click through rate, especially odd numbers because they have a 20% higher click rate than even numbers.
  • Another great tool? Hubspot’s Headline Generator. Just google it and WIN NO MATTER WHAT.
  • Add a column for the author as well, so you don’t repeat the same voice over and over. After all isn’t the goal to include people?
  • Then add the link once it’s published for record keeping.
  • In the final column add your inspiration links, preferably from competitors or companies you admire.

Now. We’re just building an editorial calendar here. If you don’t want to do all that hard work then you can simply head to our website and grab a copy of both the content funnel and the editorial calendar. Of course, it’s empty so how you fill it is up to you.

Some tips:

Copy: We always require our content team to provide what we call “inspires” on whatever subject matter or type of content they’re creating. Email: needs a layout inspire, Blog: needs a competitor inspire, Landing Page: needs an inspire, Social Posts: needs successful inspire. Why? So we can create better content than the best content that’s already out there!

CTAs: These are the most important aspect of your content and should be at top of mind no matter what stage or persona you’re working in. Every piece created should lead them to the next piece. Link related articles up, send them to the next appropriate step in the process with bolded links, callouts, buttons, whatever works for your system! The key idea is to drive them from your top of the funnel (awareness) content to your middle of the funnel (consideration) to the bottom of the funnel (decision) and get their emails!

Now once you get on a roll of creating lots of content, you can go back and repurpose it all to create even better more engaging content. By looking at what’s been the most successful (most views, most CTA clicks, most downloads)! Combine blog articles to create a guide, turn an employee testimonial blog into a video, and so on! In fact, this entire presentation was created from content myself or my team had already made!

Take a look at Maren’s presentation here!

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