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Three Tips for an Engaging 2012 Editorial Calendar - 6/20/2011 -

With next year’s editorial calendar due just around the corner, here are three tips for getting into the right mindset for planning and brainstorming.

By Marlene L. Hendrickson

The throes of summer are here and you’re enjoying a well-deserved few days by the shore. Cool drinks, warm sun, family, and friends…what’s your January/February cover story going to be again?

It is, after all, about that time to start mapping out your magazine’s 2012 editorial calendar – and following right behind is wrapping up your media planner. But don’t let editorial planning interrupt your cool summer vibe. Here are three tips for getting into the right mindset, and for being strategic about diving into your next editorial calendar.

1. Throw a party. OK, so this is more of a fun meeting. Even if you think your colleagues at work might be less than enthusiastic about contributing to an editorial planning meeting, rest assured most people like to share good ideas, especially when there are cookies involved. (Hint: bring cookies.) And when you ask your colleagues to contribute potential story ideas, they gain a better appreciation for your association’s publications overall. Think of this as part editorial planning, part bonding.

2. Reach out to the people. As publications and media people, we don’t always have a lot of face time (or phone time) with the association’s membership. Often, we rely on our latest reader survey results to ensure we’re publishing the right stuff. But an association’s members are a source of expertise we can’t afford to ignore, even though most of them aren’t trained writers. Consider doing a Q&A series throughout the next publishing year. This strategy gives your members visibility, provides an engaging platform for your readers, and quickly helps fill your editorial calendar.

3.Think back and pick up the phone. Get out the final program from your association’s last annual convention and think back to those speakers who drew the standing-room only crowds. Or ask your meetings and membership teams to share any buzz they heard afterward. Make a short list of all the speakers – or even exhibitors – that did the best job of engaging members. Forget about e-mail and get on the phone with them so you can more effectively express your enthusiasm for their prospective contributions to the magazine. Consider sending them an outline for the article you have in mind – especially if you’re unsure of their writing abilities – and give yourself enough time should the piece require substantive editing.

So now that you’re armed with these strategies, go back to enjoying that poolside cocktail and pat yourself on the back for having your 2012 editorial planning well in hand before Labor Day.

Marlene L. Hendrickson is director of publications for the American Staffing Association.


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