Staying Fresh with an Editorial Calendar
by Jim Heiney, Web/Exchange Administrator at Lock Haven University
on September 22, 2016
Keeping site content fresh is a difficult task. There are many questions to answer. How often should you update? What should you update? Who are you going to ask/force/bribe to make the changes? It's a long list and if you don't plan for it, it can easily overwhelm your web team and you end up with a stagnant site or one that's updated willy-nilly at best.
One way to manage this complex task is to create an editorial calendar. At its simplest, the calendar has a list of items to update and when they should be updated. There will be a little up-front work to create the calendar, but it's a lot easier to do the work now and not have to face a monster of a project each time you need to update.
The first tool that will assist you is a content map. Spreadsheets are an easy way to do this and here's an example of one way you could set it up.
This one might take a little time to create if you don't already have one. I have the "last publish" field in here so I can keep track. For your first pass at filling out this field, you should take advantage of running a custom report in OU Campus™ under the Reports menu (see screenshot below).
Once in Custom Reports, go to pages, select "last published," and filter the results (the filter field is in the top left) to only show web pages. I also have separate tabs on the content map for sections of the site that have a lot of content, so that the spreadsheet page is easier to take in at a glance.
Once you have your site mapped, it's a lot easier to assemble your web team (you can even yell out "Web Team, assemble!" if you would like) and go over how often you think content should be refreshed. Don't forget that there are things like images, videos, and PDF files that are candidates for updating as well. The sample content map has a column to keep track of who is in charge of certain pages. An email address here makes it easier to contact the person when it's time for updates. Alternatively, you can take advantage of OU Campus’ Reminders feature to alert content contributors via the CMS. Ideally, you will want to contact them prior to your proposed refresh date because I'm sure they won't be sitting around thinking, "I hope someone contacts me about updating my page so I have something to do." Some pages will have a natural update cycle—like event and news pages—and may not even need to be considered.
Now you can assign someone to check the spreadsheet periodically (it won't do much good to sit around smug in the knowledge that you have an editorial calendar), put critical dates on a physical calendar, or set up reminders in OU Campus or other scheduling/project software.
Some up-front work on an editorial calendar can save you a lot of time in the future. Stay fresh!
About the Blogger
Jim Heiney is the web/exchange administrator for Lock Haven University (LHU). He’s been at LHU for more than 15 years and is still amazed at how much more there is to learn (and he willingly accepts that fact) for those who work with technology. His philosophy of “never stop learning” has led him from English teacher to IT guy with a few other odd stops along the way. When not at work, he can usually be found at home with his family. In his spare time, he can be found writing, drawing, or playing the occasional computer game.