How to create an editorial content calendar

How to create an editorial content calendarCreating and maintaining an editorial calendar should be an integral part of any PR or marketing strategy.

But, with the ever-growing number of networks to share branded content with our audiences, keeping a well-curated editorial calendar is a daunting task. Here are a few tried-and-true ways you can simplify the process.

Creating your editorial calendar

The first steps in creating an editorial calendar that works for you are outlining the social networks to be used and the brands/blogs/etc. that you need to manage, as well as the depth of detail you need. Knowing these items will determine which services will work best for you.

If you only need to see a schedule of posts, using a traditional calendar app like Google calendar will work perfectly. You can create separate calendars for each blog or brand and color code it all to easily see when something needs to be done. Using a calendar app will also allow you to block out time for development and strategic planning.

If you prefer to see your posting schedule as a breakdown of the process behind creating and posting your content, a service like Trello may be the way to go. With Trello, you can create multiple boards for each step of your editorial process and add cards with topics, ideas or post titles as needed. Cards can be labeled with colors, assigned due dates and shifted from board to board as the piece moves through the editorial process. Drafts of posts can also be attached to the cards.

Using your editorial calendar

Once you’ve decided which type of editorial calendar you need, it’s time to fill it with your topics and ideas. A good content marketing plan is part coming up with great ideas and part actually getting the ideas posted on time. (Click to Tweet!)

Creativity and productivity often come in bursts, so it’s important to let the ideas flow, but to not run wild with posting everything at once, since consistency is almost as important as great content.

Once your editorial calendar is full of fantastic ideas and your content creation is underway, you need to plan how to get it noticed by your audience. As you’d guess, social media is a key component of this strategy.

Using a social media scheduling app, like Buffer, Hootsuite or TweetDeck, depending on your needs. Including which networks you plan to post on for each topic in your editorial calendar is a great way to keep your efforts on track and organized.

Setting aside a chunk of time each week dedicated to scheduling your social media for the week will also make being consistent so much easier. Planning is half the battle, after all!

What are your favorite tools for editorial planning? Please share in the comments below!

Robyn Rudish-LaningRobyn Rudish-Laning is a graduate of Duquesne University, with a bachelor’s in Public Relations, a master’s in Media Arts and Technology, and currently works as a PR Associate with Pretty Living PR, a boutique firm based in Pittsburgh. Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter or read her PR-focused blog

Visual Dos and Don’ts: A Guide to Optimizing Images for PR Success

A guide to optimizing images for PR successWe, in general, are drawn to what is visually appealing. Take a look at your Facebook or Twitter feed, and I will bet that nine times out of 10 as you’re scrolling down, skimming the content and taking in the highlights, your attention will be captured by a captivating image.

With this in mind, it’s more important than ever for us as PR pros to develop eye-catching and memorable visuals for the clients we represent on social media. Here are some dos and don’ts to consider for your integrated marketing communications plan.

Visual Dos

  • Do add an image to every blog post. This goes back to what we we’ve already said; images and visuals capture our attention. Leverage this to draw viewers in and engage.
  • Do include multiple images in blog posts when possible. This will help break up the content, especially if your content tends to be a bit lengthy. But don’t go overboard. Be sure to complement your content with the visual assets – not destroy it.
  • Do use photographs when available; avoid a static one-color background. This might be self-explanatory – but consider the two visuals below. Which one is more likely to grab your attention?

Visual Dos and Don'ts2

Visual Dos and Don'ts

  • Do sign up for free stock photo services (and attribute when and where necessary). There is a plethora of services out there to take advantage of including Unsplash, Death to the Stock Photo, Gratisography and more.
  • Bonus: Do consider placing the company or brand’s logo in the visual, when applicable. You can also take this a step further and place it in the same location e.g., the bottom left-hand corner of the visual, so viewers can easily distinguish your content as they scroll through their feeds.


  • Don’t use images that include 20 percent more text on Facebook. Use the platform’s useful text overlay tool as guidance.
  • Don’t use copyrighted photos – ever. Just like you were taught to never steal as a young child or to plagiarize in your college courses, don’t use or rather “steal” a photo when you don’t own the rights.
  • Don’t make your design too busy. As the old adage goes: KISS, Keep it simple, stupid. You want to avoid overwhelming your viewers with clutter and too much noise.
  • Don’t forget to adapt image sizes based on social media channel dimensions. Cut-off text in the preview image is not a good look for anyone, let alone your client. Reference this infographic from Constant Contact for sizes of various visual components on the top platforms.

Do you have helpful tips or tools that you to create attention-grabbing images to leverage your content? I’d love to hear from you! Please share with me on Twitter using @shandihuber, and #NPPRSA.


Shandi HuberShandi Huber is a senior account executive at Wordsworth Communications, a public relations agency in Cincinnati, Ohio. An enthusiast for all social media platforms, you can often find her pinning her dream closet on Pinterest or posting photos of her new puppy on Instagram. Connect with Shandi on LinkedIn and Twitter (@shandihuber).  

March 2015 #NPPRSA Twitter Chat Highlights: Preparing for a Crisis

Twitter Chat 3-18 SquareWe’d like to thank everyone who participated in the March #NPPRSA Twitter chat as we discussed crisis communications–how to prepare and how to react.  We would especially like to thank Jonathan Bernstein, President of Bernstein Crisis Management.

Join us again on April 15 for our next #NPPRSA chat and stay up-to-date with PRSA New Professionals on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Review highlights of the chat below. What did you learn from the March chat? How can you prepare for your brand’s vulnerabilities before a crisis? What can you do to minimize damage once a crisis hits?


You can receive FREE New Professionals Section membership for PRSA throughout March!

Lauren Headshot 1.3MBLauren Rosenbaum is the PRSA New Professionals Social Media Co-Chair and Co-Founder of Soversity, a public relations and digital marketing company. You can connect with her on Google+LinkedIn or Twitter.

#ThrowbackThursday with Christopher Penn

Editor’s note: This is the second post in our monthly #ThrowbackThursday series, which features a prominent, successful PR pro taking a look back and sharing tips from his/her days as a new pro. 

Earlier this week, we shared five skills young pros need to excel in the PR world, and as many noticed, digital knowledge was at the top of that list.

Christopher S PennToday’s #ThrowbackThursday guest, Christopher Penn, pretty much wrote the book on digital PR. (And by “wrote the book,” we mean authored three best sellers.)

He’s the vice president of marketing technology at SHIFT Communications, co-founder of PodCamp New Media Community Conference and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee podcast. Christopher has been named one of the top 50 most influential people in social media and digital marketing by Forbes multiple times, and he was named the PR News 2014 Agency Professional of the Year.

So, yeah. When it comes to integrated marketing communications, Christopher Penn is kind of a big deal. Now, let’s take a walk through his PR memory lane on this #ThrowbackThursday!

Question 1: You didn’t start off in PR right out of school. How did you get started in the industry?

It’s funny you mention that. I’ve been a marketer for years and years. The middle of the funnel – lead generation – was really my area of expertise. I could squeeze leads out of nearly any audience with tried and true marketing tactics.

But I ran into a problem: where does the audience come from?

As a marketer, you usually just buy it, with ads or list buys. That gets expensive. In 2012, I was talking to a good friend and agency owner, Mitch Joel, and he said that I needed to understand the agency world.

After that conversation, I reached out to longtime acquaintance Todd Defren, co-founder of SHIFT Communications, and said hey, let’s trade. You teach me about the top of the funnel and how PR works, and I’ll bring the middle of the funnel expertise to your clients. That started a beautiful relationship!

Question 2: Right out of college, what would you say are the most important skills new PR pros should possess?

The Ability to Write

Writing is at the heart of modern marketing and PR. Everything begins with writing, from sticky notes on your desk to 90,000 word books to screenplays for YouTube videos. Even great speaking leverages your ability to skillfully choose words. The problem is, most people aren’t great writers. Most people are average or slightly below average writers who can’t communicate with clarity.

I recommend that every student – and every PR pro – become familiar with tools like SlickWrite and Hemingway. While these tools cannot fix problems with structure, logical flow, or facts, they can identify basic flaws in writing. See this post on up-cycling content for a bit more on these tools.

The Ability to Do Deep Analysis

Statistics and mathematics are core skills for today’s PR pro. I know, I know, you got into PR to avoid math. Bad news: everything has math now. You must have the ability to take data, visualize it, analyze it, and turn it into insights and strategies.

Many students take courses with tools like SPSS and R; when they leave university life, those skills quickly atrophy. Don’t permit that to happen. Download data sets from public sources like to keep your data analysis skills strong. Practice, improve, and expand your data analysis toolkit.

If you’re facing data analysis challenges, I also recommend my latest book, Marketing Blue Belt.

The Ability to Be Creative

Creativity is one skill area that gets systematically beaten out of you by school and work. The ability to be creative hinges on your inputs, on how much useful stuff is in your brain that you can draw on at any given time. If all you’ve got in your head is junk, then all you’ll produce is junk. (Click to Tweet!) Feed your brain, especially after leaving an academic environment!

The more useful, usable information your mind has to work with, the more creative you can be. (this is also the basis for my previous book, Marketing Red Belt).

Question 3: Many new pros know they need to learn digital marketing skills, but they don’t know where to start. Can you share some tips on how new pros can learn on their own?

Learn by reading. There are great books out there like the Portable MBA on Marketing that can give you a solid foundation. If you’re in a hurry, I wrote a Cliffs Notes style book on marketing called Marketing White Belt.

Question 4: What were some of the pivotal teachings or experiences from your past that helped you become the PR pro you are today?

The biggest lessons come from the martial arts. One of the tenets of the art I practice is “keep going!”. It’s an admonition to never get comfortable, to never believe that you’ve won, and to keep learning.

One of my teachers, Ken Savage, has a great expression, “Teacher for now, student for life”. As we rise up in the ranks of our organizations, we tend to forget to keep learning. We get entrenched. We don’t budget time for learning – and we fall behind. Our organizations fall behind. Don’t let that happen – keep going!

Question 5: If you could go back in time and give advice to yourself during your first year in PR, what would you say?

I would advise myself to buy Apple stock before the 7-1 split last summer. Investing 100 shares in Apple when I joined SHIFT would have cost $12,400. Today that same investment would be worth $87,493.

More about Christopher:

Christopher S. Penn has been featured as a recognized authority in many books, publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, BusinessWeek and US News & World Report, and television networks such as PBS, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, and ABC News for his leadership in new media and marketing. In 2012 and 2013, Forbes Magazine recognized him as one of the top 50 most influential people in social media and digital marketing. MediaPost renewed this honor in 2015. Marketo Corporation named him a Marketing Illuminator, and PR News nominated him as both Social Media Person of the Year and Social Media Icon MVP in 2014. PR News also named him Agency Professional of the Year.

Mr. Penn is the Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, a public relations firm, as well as co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp New Media Community Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. He is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He’s the author of the best-selling books Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital MarketerMarketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.

What skills do young PR pros need?

What skills do young PR pros need-If you want to excel in the PR world, it’s time to think beyond the classroom.

(Uh oh. I can already hear some angry rumblings from my former professors…)

I’ll admit, the skills you learn in your PR classes are vital. They’ve helped me understand strategy, ROI, media relations and much more.

(Phew. Now my next campus visit won’t be so awkward.)

But today’s PR pros need more than the basics. Even if you have a progressive professor teaching integrated PR, there’s still no way you can learn every single new marketing skill in one semester, or even four years.

With the way this PR world is changing, it’s just not humanly possible. To stay competitive in the job market you need to be:

  • Constantly learning.
  • Subscribing to podcasts.
  • Reading blogs daily.
  • Heck, even starting your own blog.

But don’t just take my word for it. To help answer the “What skills do young PR pros need” question, I’ve aggregated tips from some leading industry experts. 

Understand the data - @johnsonhui 

As a new PR pro, you’ll be heavily involved in reporting and measurement. But Johnson Hui of Edelman notes the most impressive employees can infer actionable insights from data – instead of just regurgitating numbers.

“PR professionals no longer simply grind data from press clips and media audits,” he says in Edelman’s blog post. “They need to be able to identify valuable data and tell evidence-based stories that can impact business decisions.”

Learn content marketing@GiniDietrich

In her August 2014 post, Gini suggests doing content marketing for yourself to really understand how to use it on the job. Get started with a personal blog on Tumblr, WordPress or Blogger.

I started my own PR blog last year, and the insights I’ve gleaned have been tremendous. I researched and uncovered entirely new social and syndication tools to help my content get found, which, in turn, is used to help my clients amplify their own content.

Bonus tip: If you’re thinking to yourself “I have nothing to write about!” check out another Gini post on generating blog post ideas.

Speak publicly – confidently - @RachelAMiller

Sure, digital is an integral part of PR, but that doesn’t mean face-to-face communication is obsolete. Not by a long shot.

Rachel Miller of PR 20|20 notes that public speaking is the number one fear in the U.S. (Yes, number *one* above disgusting spiders or 50-legged silverfish bugs – my arch enemies). But, whether you’re sharing ideas during internal meetings or presenting a Q2 or annual plan to clients, public speaking is a necessity.

To beef up your public speaking skills – and calm those jitters – Rachel suggests finding local speech classes, clubs or even making toasts at family functions like weddings. (Look no further than Michael Scott for this inspiration.)

Look for trends, not just hits - @Julia_Sahin 

In her post “10 things young PR pros need to STOP doing to get ahead,” Julia tells young PR pros to look for trends hidden within clients’ stories and industries. It’s easy to find client coverage and call it a day, but the PR pros who find the underlying trends are the PR pros who excel.

“Picking up the patterns and interests of reporters, publications and blogs and identifying opportunities is one of the most valuable skills in the industry,” she says in the post on Muckrack. “Start this practice early and you’ll be a real pro before you know it.”

Understand the media landscape@allenmireles

Despite the ongoing PR changes, one traditional tactic remains integral to the industry: media relations. The third-party credibility is irreplaceable, says Allen.

But today’s media relations looks quite different than media relations 10 years ago. We now have blogger and influencer relations under that media umbrella. To stay updated on the media landscape, you must read, watch and listen to the news. And better yet, get your news from a variety of outlets.

This knowledge will get you far in the interview process and on the job.

PR is a constantly evolving industry.  To get ahead of the pack, you’ll need to make sure these skills (plus those described in the subhead hyperlinks, which I strongly suggest reading) are part of your PR repertoire.

And now, it’s your turn: What must-have PR skills would you add to this list?

Stephanie VermillionStephanie Vermillion is a senior account executive at Wordsworth Communications, a public relations agency in Cincinnati. She is the PRSA National New Professionals blog co-chair, and is on the PRSA Cincinnati Leadership Team. Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter (@SMVermillion).