“We should really start using a content calendar” is a phrase often heard in internal comms departments. And those people are not wrong, you really should start using a content calendar, but doing so often falls to the bottom of the ever-growing to-do list, and inevitably, never gets done.
Here are five reasons you should make having a content calendar a priority right now (oh and don’t worry, we have an awesome free template you can use to get started):
1. Planning ahead: there’s no time like the present
With the heat of summer behind us, I hate to say it, but it will be Christmas before we know it. The start of a new year is always a busy time for a business and knowing what to expect in the first few months of the year will really help you hit the ground running.
If you start using your new content calendar now, by the time 2022 comes around, you and your team will be planning pros and well-versed in populating it with upcoming communications activities. Provided you speak to other areas of the business in the lead up to the new year about their communications needs, you shouldn’t have any nasty surprises in those first few weeks…. and if you do, at least you know when everything else is scheduled so you can work around it.
2. It will show you understand the organization
In the grand scheme of things, internal comms is a relatively young discipline, with some professionals still doubting our value (I know, crazy right?!). This is particularly true of senior stakeholders, with members of the C-suite rating the level of internal communications in their organizations lower than any other group (check out our “Assessing Internal Communications” report for more information on this).
Planning activities for yourself and on behalf of other teams demonstrates an understanding of your organization and how the operations of different areas impact each other. Simply having a content calendar isn’t enough though, you need to ensure key communications activity from around your organization is recorded in it, and you can only do this by liaising with the teams you support and planning relevant activity ahead of time.
3. It will help you to say “no!”
Saying “no” to stakeholders is a tough but necessary part of being a communicator. It’s sometimes impossible to agree to all the requests you receive and having something tangible to back that up, rather than just saying “I don’t have the capacity” not only helps you to find a compromise but also helps to build trusting relationships with those that you support.
Being able to illustrate scheduling conflicts by sharing your content calendar will help you to have constructive conversations with stakeholders, where they can negotiate among themselves on timing, rather than you finding yourself always caught in the middle.
4. It’s a record of your output
Ever needed to demonstrate your team’s output? Or thought “What did we do for this campaign last year”? Well, now you have a record of your communications activity for the whole year, including scheduling, channel info, results, and key stakeholders.
If you’re looking to request more resources for your team or justify your current headcount, it’s also pretty useful to be able to show an account of the support you provided to the organization and argue your case either way.
5. Contingency planning: what if you got hit by a bus?
No one likes to think about it, but this question gets asked at the start of any contingency planning exercise. If a member of your team is unavailable for an extended period for whatever reason, will you or one of your colleagues be able to pick up their work with little to no direction? Having a populated content calendar ensures everyone on the team knows what work is in the pipeline and where they may need to pick up the slack.
Start your content calendar today
Whether you’re starting a content calendar for the first time, or looking to take your existing one to the next level, check out our free Content Calendar Template to get going!