Whenever I begin working with a client, whether it’s one-on-one collaboration, a Media Strategy Session, or in the midst of the How to Become a Media Darling program, one of the very first things I ask everyone is “How far out are you planning?”
I’m asking about book promotional efforts, of course, which includes publicity, marketing, social media, speaking, book events, webinars, conferences — both virtual and on-the-ground, etc. All of it.
The response I love most is, “3 years out!” although I never hear it. I am lucky to hear, “One year out,” which I do from time-to-time, but more often than not, the person hasn’t thought about planning in those terms…yet. It is something I encourage though, because it allows your mind to relax and think. When you don’t write something down or plan it, and you have many, many projects and tasks that you wish to accomplish, the brain thinks you should be working on all of them at the same time. That, my friend, is the perfect recipe for overwhelm.
Now, I’m not a neuroscientist; I’m simply sharing my vast experience, and the shouts of “I feel overwhelmed” coming from clients tells me this is so. You need to plan it out over one full year so that your mind can relax and know you are addressing what you want to be doing.
In fact, take a moment right now and open up your digital calendar, your desk calendar, or scan the large calendar pages that go up on the wall — one for each month of the year. (Personally, I like the big wall calendars you can put up all around you and really see what you’re doing. Like this one.)
Regardless of your calendar preference, why are they important? Because having a plan is the first step in actually making things happen and there’s a lot we can get scheduled.
I call this an editorial calendar but there are other names: Content calendar, PR promo calendar, pitch calendar, campaign calendar. It doesn’t really matter what you call it as long as YOU know what it is and why it is important.
If you’re resisting this idea in any way, let me just share that there are two main reasons people avoid doing this.
- They just don’t know what to promote.
- They have way too much going on. They’re overwhelmed, and they’re overwhelming their audiences too, because they’re just tossing out content left and right with no plan.
In addition to planning, there are other great reasons for having an editorial calendar. It allows you to do the following:
- Maintain consistency with your messaging for your book and brand across all platforms. Once you’ve set expectations with your tribe and group, then you want to continue to meet those expectations.
- Strategically plan where to promote your book and its messages.
- Keep track of various campaigns, start and end dates, the strategy involved with each as well as the tactics so that everything gets done.
- Schedule follow up time. If you or others do a big push for you, you need to follow up with them to be sure they continue to mention you — and that you mention it yourself.
- See where and when you have additional content and what you might want to do with it.
- It also lets you know when your content is light and that you need to correct that through brainstorming or coming up with additional ideas.
- This editorial calendar isn’t just for planning for the future. It is also a record of the past to see what you’ve already done, and to make sure you aren’t duplicating efforts unless you want to.
- What opt-in gift are you promoting? Which link are you using with this outreach, and that outreach? This calendar can be your life line. Really.
- It allows you to track how often you’ve posted something educational or entertaining, and how often you’ve posted something that more directly promotes you and your book. There is a ratio that is important to pay attention to.
- If you have a launch date, get it on the calendar. There is a ton of stuff you can do pre-publication, and then after publication.
- Also on the calendar you can decide what your campaigns are going to be. What your social media content is going to be.
- Mark down all the holidays you want to tie into because they make sense for your book and your brand.
- As you go from month-to-month write down the special topics that apply to that month and also apply to you and your book. You can look at September right here to get an idea of what I’m suggesting.
- Mark down all the seasonal angles you can tie into, e.g., autumn. If you have a book on dressing with color, then you can create tips and suggestions for the fall color palette, back to work and school after summer, dressing warmer, the new hot colors and styles for this year, where are the best bargains to be found? Holidays will be coming up soon. How your readers need to prepare. With your book and topic in mind, what can you help with for each season?
- Once you look it over and determine everything you’ve marked down fits your book and your vision, then decide where your promotions and sales will fit in on the calendar. For you, the holidays might be your biggest time of year, or maybe it’s the New Year, or maybe it’s springtime. The point here is to get clear on what it is, then get it on the calendar and plan.
Of course, we are the media now so in addition to doing your own media and content generation, you’ll want to reach out to earned media for all kinds of opportunities to get your message out there.
Bottom line: It seems like a lot, and it is, but it’s totally doable. When you plan for the next year and get all your ideas and campaigns listed and outlined, that is when the magic really happens. If you need some help and support, let me know you’re ready for a Media Strategy Session. Let’s do it.
To your success!
P.S. Some surprises are good. Just go with them…
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