Content Calendar Vs. Editorial Calendar: Which is Right for Your Organization?

How are journalism and content marketing different? Seems like an easy question.

Journalists create news stories to inform the public. Content marketers create content to drive interest and attract customers. Done and done.

Not so fast. Those are oversimplified job descriptions to be sure, but the two have more in common than you may think. Maybe that’s why some say your marketing team should be made up of journalists.

Both roles require strategy, research and creativity. Both are also reliant on timely execution, which is why calendars are an important tool to track and manage work. But you might be surprised to learn that journalists and marketers take different approaches in how they use this content planning tool.

The Differences Between a Content Calendar and an Editorial Calendar

If you’re one of the many people who use the terms “content calendar” and “editorial calendar” interchangeably, you may believe there is no difference, but in reality you can use both to drive content strategy in distinct ways.

Editorial Calendar

If you think about your favorite magazines, you’ll probably notice issues often have permeating themes. Sometimes it’s explicit — the food and drink issue, fashion month, etc. — and sometimes you may not even realize the thread exists. Either way, there was a cohesive plan driving the content decisions of each edition.

Publications keep an editorial calendar to plan ahead. They use it to conceptualize stories and assign the writers, photographers and editors who prepare the piece for publication.

Often these calendars are yearly, monthly or quarterly, which means the general outline and broad themes are established well in advance, with the details being filled in closer to publication. It’s more of a guiding framework, helping to ensure cadence and balance.

Content Calendar

As a content marketer, you may be more familiar with the term “content calendar.” These calendars are more granular and specific, going into greater detail around the day-to-day management of your content projects and publishing schedule.

You can also use content calendars for flexibility. By having a content plan that focuses on daily planning, you can prepare for one-off and on-demand assets and campaigns. This allows your team to be agile and create content that is timely and valuable, while still maintaining organizational visibility.

How to Combine Your Editorial Calendar and Your Content Calendar

Whether you zoom out and take a high-level view of your content or dive into the details, your calendar helps keep your team on track. Here are some key ways you can combine the two calendars to drive successful content initiatives:

  • Create an overarching strategy and content focus areas
  • Define a more consistent publishing cadence for content properties and channels
  • Slot ideas and one-off requests into future planned themes and campaigns

By incorporating these elements, you can plan far in advance, while maintaining the flexibility to adjust on the fly. It’s also a good way to create large content assets that introduce a new product or highlight a key feature you offer, which can then be broken into smaller pieces of content. This is sometimes referred to as turkey slicing, and offers the chance to develop a full strategy for the audience and purpose of each piece of content.

How to Use Your Content Calendar and Editorial Calendar

If you’re still wondering whether you can, or should, use both calendar approaches, think about this example: Perhaps you have a few initiatives, opportunities or feature stories you want to release this year — say, three new products or features coming out that will require a big content push.

The initiative itself can be plugged into your editorial calendar as a campaign or theme. This will give your entire team visibility and the chance to plan ahead and begin conceptualizing the appropriate assets.

As you get closer to launch, you can fill in more granular pieces of content that may be quick-hitting or timely, such as emails and social media posts, to ensure you are reaching the personas and stage of the marketing funnel you’ve targeted.

By using both types of calendars, you can easily:

  • Visualize upcoming initiatives
  • Ensure strategic alignment
  • Create production and publishing timelines
  • Manage team members work and tasks
  • Schedule posts

Why the Right Calendar Will Improve Your Content Strategy

If you are not using content calendars to drive your strategy, you may be missing out. The lack of a plan creates chaos and you’ll commonly miss out on timely opportunities. By organizing your content with an editorial calendar and content calendar, you can keep everyone focused on objectives and timelines.

Instead of team members working individually or in silos, they will be organized and aligned around a single concept, voice and direction.

Ready to integrate editorial and content calendars into your strategy? Try out DivvyHQ to take your content to the next level.