10.14.2008

Let Me Check My Calendar

Sometimes I feel like my calendar and to-do list(s) have become an actual extension of my body, like a phantom arm ― even though it’s not physically attached, it still itches. A lot.

I also find the more meetings I attend, phone calls I take and emails I read, the longer my to-do list becomes and the more meetings I have to attend, which results in more emails and phone calls.

I must confess, I am a bit of a calendar and list-making junkie. Give me a stack of clean, white steno pads and new box of medium-point blue ink pens and I can formulate a not-so-evil plan to take over the world.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone did all the planning for you? Determined your top priorities, mapped out a time and place to take care of those priorities and made sure you had all the supplies and resources available to insure your ultimate success?

Here’s a secret: in the media world, people do that very thing. It’s called an editorial calendar, and it’s a great tool for finding the right publication to pitch a story about your business – and the right time to make the pitch.

Most newspapers have editorial calendars that determine a theme for each issue of their publication (even larger, daily papers usually have some sort of editorial calendar, although usually for special sections), and most of them will send you a copy. For free.

Candy Waylock, editor of Northside Woman in Alpharetta, Ga., gave me the skinny on how that publication uses editorial calendars to determine how to fill their editorial space.

“Northside Woman works out a 12-month calendar of content,” says Candy. “It helps direct our editorials subjects as well as focus our advertising efforts.”

For example, a newspaper might focus one month on real estate, another month on retail and another on technology. If you are a boutique owner hoping for a feature in your local publication, it makes more sense to pitch your story as the paper is planning its retail issue.

Many publications post their editorial calendars online (check the advertising section), and if it isn’t online, simply call the advertising department and ask them to e-mail the calendar. As Candy said, most publications focus both their editorial content and their advertising into one publication, which is the reason most advertising sales departments keep the information handy.
Once you have the editorial calendar, find out what the deadline is for the issue you are focusing on for your story. Then start pulling together your information to pitch to the right reporter at the appropriate time.

And if you find someone who will take care of my other calendar(s) for me, please let me know. In the meantime, I have to make a list of my lists. With medium-point blue ink, of course.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure, measure a year? - From the musical Rent

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