Why Content Programs Fail without an Editorial Plan

“Plan the work and work the plan.” “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

There’s no shortage of maxims on planning that embody a number of different viewpoints, but no matter your feelings on how the planning process is executed, running a content or custom publishing campaign without a plan for too long is going to waste a lot of effort and money.

Granted, most people don’t consider the planning process to be as exciting as other program components, such as interviews with celebrities, travel to exotic locations and glamorous photo shoots.

But planning can be sexy (at least for a certain type of individual) when you consider that a good editorial plan is critical if you hope to have even a modicum of success. As you are evaluating or setting up your content program, here are a few baseline concepts that you should look for.

1.     Establish an editorial mission. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? How is it different? Why will it attract an audience? Why is your company uniquely positioned to deliver this content? Your organization knows its overall mission—your team, agency and internal partners should know your content’s mission as well.

2.     Create for a person. It’s important to have a person in mind as you create content for your program. It will keep your content focused. It will make it vivid. You’ll find that creating content when you have a specific person in mind becomes much, much easier. This can be a real person that you identify with or a fictional customer of your brand. This person is your friend. Give them something useful. Or intriguing. Or inspiring.

3.     Make an editorial calendar. As you refine your mission and consider your audience, be sure you are working from an editorial calendar. Our editorial calendars include details like topics, frequency, audience, desired actions, distribution methods and other details. A regular publishing schedule and a focused approach are incredibly important to the success of a content program. It can get messy without a clear path, especially when dealing with different stakeholders in a large organization.

Sometimes just getting a content program rolling in the first place is the most important step to seeing what works and what doesn’t. But make it a priority to get a good plan in place quickly as you move forward. After all, to cite another maxim: You can always change the plan, but only if you have one.