Managing content and the conversations around it have always been part of the PR job description. But today, there are many more communications vehicles, with advanced content marketing and management increasingly falling into the PR domain for many organizations. While there are some tools that simplify the end-to-end editorial and social media management process, they’re usually outside the budget range of Solo PR Pros and their clients. Having a repository of Conversation Calendar Templates can be enormously beneficial in meeting varied client needs.
While a separate Google Calendar is one option for planning, most clients feel more comfortable with an actual file to review. So once you’ve thought through your strategies, there are three calendar approaches I’ve found work best to manage updates in most client situations (note that these are separate from the blog editorial calendar process).
All of the examples below use a separate worksheet for each month, with activities broken down by week, and you’ll customize the social networks/tactics based on each individual client (for example, some clients may have more emphasis on YouTube or Pinterest, others may not use LinkedIn).
1. If you want something pretty to show a client that doesn’t have a ton of news/content, a calendar that includes colorful icons can be very well-received (click to view larger):
2. Another way to handle, especially if you have an organization with a steady stream of new assets and events, is to focus on the new items without detailing what needs to be said or covered on each social network or communications vehicle:
In this case, unless you have an additional scheduling calendar, you’re trusting the person in charge of each communications vehicle to express the information appropriately. So, if you handle all the communications and social media for a busy client and have a good level of trust with them, this can be a nice way to show what you’ll be promoting when (and/or for them to report to you what will be available), without having to detail each message in advance.
3. For clients with a heavy emphasis on social media, especially those who like to be hands-on in their review of how messages will be expressed, the following calendar works well:
By including all of your channels on the left and listing out each communication (with color coding), you can see at-a-glance everything planned for a given week, and adjust as needed. This calendar can be as general or as detailed as you need it to be (word-for-word tweets, for example), and can be customized for any number of assets.
Of course, all of these formats can be combined or used in tandem. If you’re working collaboratively with a team, Google Docs (now Google Drive) remains one of the best tools for handling content management, since all of the above calendars can be placed online as a spreadsheet and edited by those with permission.
By the way, most of the world is currently handling content management as a separate process from scheduling – a fact that drives me a bit nutty. I’m currently testing a multi-step process that will reduce the cut/paste insanity, so stay tuned…
If you’ve used other methods with success (or if you have any lessons learned to share), please let us know in the comments!
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Update: We’ve said it here before, but it bears repeating: scheduled updates are no substitute for real-time engagement across social networks. It’s critical to be responsive and have mechanisms to capture the feedback loop. Thanks to Lisa Vielee for mentioning this on Twitter, which reminded me to point this out!