How To Use An Editorial Calendar Effectively As A PR Professional

Apr 04, 2022

An editorial calendar is one of the most powerful tools you can use when building a pitching strategy for your clients. They’re full of information that can give you a leg-up with insider knowledge—so you can send the perfect pitches at the perfect times. But so many PR pros don’t use editorial calendars properly, or worse, completely overlook them! 

Though it may seem overwhelming at first, using an editorial calendar is so worth it. If you use them correctly, you can start landing incredible features for your clients in top-tier publications by timing your pitches accurately to what those publications are looking for. 

What Is An Editorial Calendar? 

An editorial calendar outlines all the content a particular publication plans to publish during the upcoming year. Bloggers, publishers, businesses, and magazines all use editorial calendars to plan ahead for what they’re going to create. They include the timing of specific stories and themes, and can also point to larger industry trends. 

For traditional and digital publishing, media outlets typically publish their editorial calendars for the entire year at once, and they’re accessible to anyone who is interested. This lets them share their upcoming content themes so advertisers can work in advance, too. 

So, Editorial Calendars Are for Advertisers? 

Sort of! Though an editorial calendar may be created with advertisers in mind, you can easily use it to your advantage as a PR pro. 

You can utilize editorial calendars to help you strategize creative pitches tailored to themes that the outlets in your niche are actually looking for. Using an editorial calendar, you’ll be able to spot the perfect stories that align with your clients, and then pitch them (or their products) at the right time (and early enough) to potentially be included in the piece! 

Plus, you’ll be able to build out a comprehensive media outreach strategy that’s focused on both short-lead and long-lead pitch angles, since you have each publication’s plan for an entire year. 

How To Use An Editorial Calendar As A PR Pro 

Editorial calendars sound incredible, right? But…they can also be a little daunting. Finding and pulling dates from every single relevant publication in your niche for the entire year is a lot to handle. 

But don’t worry! Once you have the information you need, breaking down an editorial calendar and working it into your pitching strategy is super straightforward. 

Do Your Research 

First things first, you’ve got to do your research. Take the time (and it will be a lot of time!) to seek out the editorial calendars of each publication in your niche that you’re targeting for pitching. 

Since editorial calendars are geared towards advertisers, you’ll likely need to look at the advertising section of the publication you’re researching. It may also be located on the footer of the website or can be found by searching for the publication’s media kit online. 

If you can’t find it on the publication’s website and your search comes up empty, reach out to an editor and ask for their editorial calendar on behalf of your clients. 

Related: 3 Steps to Create an Effective Press Plan for 2022

Create Your Own Editorial Calendar

Once you’ve got the editorial calendar for each of your target publications, it’s time to pull out those dates! 

First, note any relevant publication dates and issue dates (not the close dates!) that you want to pitch your clients for. Then, work backward to calculate when you should begin pitching based on those listed publication dates. 

You’ll want to work in both short- and long-lead pitch angles here. The standard lead-time for the majority of print editions is 3-6 months, so you should begin pitching relevant angles at least 3 months before the publication date. Online lead times are typically shorter at about 3-6 weeks, and can better capture breaking news and viral trends.  

Be sure to build in time to craft your pitches, connect with your media contacts, and any extra steps particular to the pitch, like sample sends or interviews. 

Transfer all of those notes and dates into your own editorial calendar. This can be a physical calendar or a digital calendar—whatever works best for you! With all the dates laid out in front of you, you’ll be able to stay on track with your pitches and reach out to journalists and editors at your target publications right on time. 

Build a Layered Approach 

Now it’s time to execute your pitching strategy! With your master editorial calendar in hand, you’ll be able to build out a comprehensive pitching strategy that’s focused on both short-lead and long-lead pitch angles. 

Remember to adjust your lead times accordingly for print and digital publications. Particularly with digital outlets, you might find that you’re too early for a certain story; if so, take note and work that shift into your strategy for the next time around. Being early is much better than being late to pitch and missing an opportunity to impact headlines! 

With editorial calendars, you’ll know what to prioritize in terms of pitching and, more importantly, when to pitch to land epic press placements for your clients. 

Using an editorial calendar properly as a PR pro is all about taking what you know the media is working on and aligning your clients to the publication’s timing. You also have to think of what the outlet has published in the past as well as any upcoming trends, especially if you have access to trend reports. 

Wait…Is There An Easier Way To Use Editorial Calendars As A PR Pro?

Spoiler alert: YES! 

It’s totally time-consuming to have to dig through every single publication’s editorial calendars and put them together yourself in an actionable way. Then you have to break them down for long-lead and short-lead pitching…ugh! 

There’s a much easier way, though…what if you were able to get seamless short-lead and long-lead editorial calendars from TONS of publications, all wrapped up inside a guide that also gives you pitch angles, seasonal tips and tricks, social media ideas, and more? 

That’s exactly what we do for you inside the monthly Execution Plans we create in The Pitch Lab!

Every month, you’ll get access to a HUGE document that will save you so much time. You’ll know exactly what to pitch and when, how to stay ahead of the game, what publications are looking for, what’s happening each month, and more. 

Typically, pulling content from editorial calendars takes hours each month, quarter, or year. It’s time-consuming, and not exactly reliable if you’re only pulling once per year! 

Our Execution Plans save you so much time, effort, and headaches by letting you get all the key information without any of the work. But you don’t just get editorial calendars–you also get SO many of the ideas, tips, and strategies to spark creative pitches and help you stay on track for your clients. 

We’ve also created a brand-new Editorial Calendar Database where you can see an entire year of editorial calendars for all of your favorite publications in one easy-to-access spot, sorted by industry! That way, you can plan out an entire year’s worth of pitching strategy for your clients in advance, to help keep you and your team on track and ahead of the game. 

Though they may be easy to overlook, an editorial calendar is an essential piece of your pitching strategy puzzle. To utilize one strategically as a PR pro, build those key dates into your own calendar and use it to perfectly time your pitches. You’ll be landing killer features for your clients in no time!