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A Template for Calendaring Your Messagingnr4ymtwc9y0ov1n3jkmt3vgx7ig7ug78A Template for Calendaring Your Messaging

(English → Afrikaans) View original
Translators:

One of the best practices often overlooked by many “I’m spinning too many plates on long skinny poles” nonprofits is calendaring out the messaging your organization is going to send ahead of time. Akin to flossing, calendaring your messaging ahead of time is something that organizations think that they should do but don’t see the benefit on a day-to-day level to actually start doing it. Why is it a “best practice”, you ask? Well, let’s take a sec and check out some of the benefits!toe4w0u6p4k020pn9insbgezrn56m1j5

Message Calendaring and Youn6wayxz01fcmvdzes4j372prtxq22aag

Keeping a message calendar allows you to…21agepi4ofn57ks9qt0prrukqck5mlnf

  • keep a consistent presence in your contacts’ inboxes (you don’t want to appear once a year).9ebm2acb9sxks7cy45ftyu43b3p03qi2
  • make sure you aren’t spamming your contacts (you don’t want to appear once a day)25oxcjqz7zosq25xc1y1v9easkpm1x2t
  • manage messaging for multiple programss8iks2iplucumvz9q91mi457g8jqzxwi
  • ensure that programs and campaigns are messaged and not forgotten96zt3jiild0rvbu100jjblbdlvt962h5
  • construct a single email with multiple people providing contentmvi4mufy65npe3qyrhxhw6vy22zpkt9x
  • plan a “narrative arc” for your campaigns021f45cd8ea4wdltyxteh8v0hq3mgzz6
      e.g.j9e5qbfk6pijchf0a0wti56ccujrx4y6

    • A new law is on the ballot and it’s horrible! Sign our petition!h6cw1afdop5yje9919v7tlshyfsr28i9
    • Look at all these signatures we’ve received! Help us email our lawmakers!7a7jzbpl22bjhqn4yhybzhjfmm5ej9vh
    • The vote is tomorrow! Come and show your opposition!bbuhd2umr0zsa30f1h9k750r19q844v6
    • We won! The law didn’t pass! Help us continue this important work by donating!h2evkh20u75jt5t46r4sn8k64uw4zvo6

Consequently, calendaring your messaging, especially as an organization with multiple people, gives your online communications a structure and (God-forbid) a process in which to have believable, effective messaging as you use email (or whatever other tool) for your organization’s work to save the world.ax5gbox4nbu3gmodmasv10f8iyecquwr

Agreed?3aw1jd9pgei62l03kayyws9rukwkhtlb

A Template for Calendaring Your Messaging?tdq5hw1xu969zfvgh11j2o0718q7zbgj

Well, here’s the issue. Traditional calendars in their monthly display aren’t the best for tracking any of the things in my unordered list up there. Emails and communications efforts are thrown into disparate days without any way to examine them in a systematic way. As a result, I’ve been trying to put together a simple, DIY template that anyone can use to track their messaging across time. Let’s check it out, shall we?xwv3vnoyj7cjtbq921caauyjywt126xp

Below is the basic component of my messaging calendar template.s3xedz3vmhhgc345tiqqdxi3e3hhyeph

  • Across the top, going horizontal, is simply the continuous listing of upcoming months. I gave each month four columns corresponding to four weeks (thinking that at our organization the most we will send in terms of emails is one per week and even that is heavy for us).4yozmoyhx35jy2gwriwsrpd597yopuej

    Underneath the running months is an “Important Dates” line where you can mark out important campaign, fundraising and programmatic dates through-out the year as check points and touchstones from which to build out message arcs.znpsmzveiuayyctryys7b8vo6uk3203r

  • On the left side of the template are different rows that correspond to different areas of our email blast template. The idea here is that you can plan out your message placement in the actual email itself through the message calendar. Whether your communications person is filling in all the rows or multiple people are contributing, the message calendar can act as the shared document to get multiple content pieces organized.l2hyka1hue0umlmbbty3k2rm7v4bb2em

For each email that I’m planning, I first find the week that I want to send it, then start filling in cells in that week’s column based on the content I want in each template area. Notice that I put the actual send date of the email in the “Important Dates” row.l8b6oe469n8qj6fg5uhhlxie0fiwq5b2

Hover over the image to see it filled in with example content (click for a larger version).1io3xwqrjhj2mvhw2sz236p3xsh1m2ee7hn2lx6e9p854f7dg2c4ci9662f75le3 If you’re reading this post in an RSS reader, you may have to click through to the actual site.a0e3cculddxzkqaos5vrjjlun18c4g74


The above example is a simple message calendar. I have email content assigned to weeks in January and areas inside the email. I can see when other emails are coming up and space them out accordingly. As a result, we can track our messaging across time.b1f1tnyaslglprc8jkxgzy7luff9asxc

Additional Elements to Track5g3wrixt0d4gc59eix6gbuhbpvqwct37

We can also add elements to help us keep track of other information with the message calendar (after all, it’s just a spreadsheet).omx4vniix5tdr822uzqctqr31gmzswj6

Programs and Campaignsow6mf82m7bg4dygzvox3bh3s85jpkanz

One additional area we can add is a Program and Campaign section. This will help us keep track of which programs and campaigns the emails are updating our audience on. When an email mentions a specific program area or campaign we mark it in the Program and Campaign section.ppxljc49z0lwi7cxfvowvrg0ze0heqbu

Hover over the image to see it filled in with example content (click for a larger version).1io3xwqrjhj2mvhw2sz236p3xsh1m2ee7hn2lx6e9p854f7dg2c4ci9662f75le3


Together, a message calendar tracking content in the email template as well as programs and campaigns might look like the example below. Notice that each email has areas marked in the Programs and Campaignsow6mf82m7bg4dygzvox3bh3s85jpkanz section to note what subjects that email covered. This way, we can always see how we are messaging around a specific program or campaign throughout the year by looking at that specific program’s message calendar row.


Template Totally Filled

Statisticsba1z1rdj8bi62iy3l9cnlx1oafxr1bi2

Another addition that we can add is a Statisticsba1z1rdj8bi62iy3l9cnlx1oafxr1bi2 section to track metrics surrounding our email campaigns over time. This way we can keep track of what email content is engaging our audience to open and click and what content is being ignored. In other words, we can start tracking our measurable communications goals and see if we’re actually succeeding.


Stats Template Filled

Other Communications Channelsvu0gpgztapspthqh6697nzrl9vba5msq

Another change to consider is if your messaging is not “email centric” and you’d rather see other channels tracked on your calendar. In this example, we have Social Media channels over time rather than sections of the email template:d48ysj1fkvehf73xpdzgnq2sgk8if0ej

Hover over the image to see it filled in with example content (click for a larger version).1io3xwqrjhj2mvhw2sz236p3xsh1m2ee7hn2lx6e9p854f7dg2c4ci9662f75le3


An alternative to this is to use a simple message calendar for calendaring out your email and, in conjunction, using a Publishing Matrix to coordinate that messaging with your other communications channels.hx4d8e83j07ivtcoukhze6dtly93brij

Exhale. Your Turn!i4zlc0tagaeeaeob64ivfkn3wi669ugi

Calendaring your messaging is a great way to get more organized about your organizational communications as well as be intentional about your appearance in people’s inboxes (no one likes spam.). Whether your goal is to improve the narrative arcs around your campaigns or keep track of messaging from multiple departments, having a document to keep track can save you frustration and time while allowing you to track progress to your goals.97tpa13zum2z781okc4y2fd0ko0tqusp

Looking at time as a line like in our message calendar template (vs. in a traditional calendar) allows you to track individual programs, multiple messaging arcs and statistics much easier. If you’re thinking that you might try out our message calendar template, you can download it here (XLS file).2k2a1rgln982upwx1vsjg7qlyai10ujs

Does this template seem like something that would be useful for your work? What would you change?5zuhg246hszgzy6gepfx7i4hya1q8dt4

How do you calendar your messaging?tcs5lfsigd3264kxq5xjmz8bgisaffbz

(original) View Afrikaans translation

One of the best practices often overlooked by many “I’m spinning too many plates on long skinny poles” nonprofits is calendaring out the messaging your organization is going to send ahead of time. Akin to flossing, calendaring your messaging ahead of time is something that organizations think that they should do but don’t see the benefit on a day-to-day level to actually start doing it. Why is it a “best practice”, you ask? Well, let’s take a sec and check out some of the benefits!

Message Calendaring and You

Keeping a message calendar allows you to…

  • keep a consistent presence in your contacts’ inboxes (you don’t want to appear once a year).
  • make sure you aren’t spamming your contacts (you don’t want to appear once a day)
  • manage messaging for multiple programs
  • ensure that programs and campaigns are messaged and not forgotten
  • construct a single email with multiple people providing content
  • plan a “narrative arc” for your campaigns
      e.g.

    • A new law is on the ballot and it’s horrible! Sign our petition!
    • Look at all these signatures we’ve received! Help us email our lawmakers!
    • The vote is tomorrow! Come and show your opposition!
    • We won! The law didn’t pass! Help us continue this important work by donating!

Consequently, calendaring your messaging, especially as an organization with multiple people, gives your online communications a structure and (God-forbid) a process in which to have believable, effective messaging as you use email (or whatever other tool) for your organization’s work to save the world.

Agreed?

A Template for Calendaring Your Messaging?

Well, here’s the issue. Traditional calendars in their monthly display aren’t the best for tracking any of the things in my unordered list up there. Emails and communications efforts are thrown into disparate days without any way to examine them in a systematic way. As a result, I’ve been trying to put together a simple, DIY template that anyone can use to track their messaging across time. Let’s check it out, shall we?

Below is the basic component of my messaging calendar template.

  • Across the top, going horizontal, is simply the continuous listing of upcoming months. I gave each month four columns corresponding to four weeks (thinking that at our organization the most we will send in terms of emails is one per week and even that is heavy for us).

    Underneath the running months is an “Important Dates” line where you can mark out important campaign, fundraising and programmatic dates through-out the year as check points and touchstones from which to build out message arcs.

  • On the left side of the template are different rows that correspond to different areas of our email blast template. The idea here is that you can plan out your message placement in the actual email itself through the message calendar. Whether your communications person is filling in all the rows or multiple people are contributing, the message calendar can act as the shared document to get multiple content pieces organized.

For each email that I’m planning, I first find the week that I want to send it, then start filling in cells in that week’s column based on the content I want in each template area. Notice that I put the actual send date of the email in the “Important Dates” row.

Hover over the image to see it filled in with example content (click for a larger version). If you’re reading this post in an RSS reader, you may have to click through to the actual site.


The above example is a simple message calendar. I have email content assigned to weeks in January and areas inside the email. I can see when other emails are coming up and space them out accordingly. As a result, we can track our messaging across time.

Additional Elements to Track

We can also add elements to help us keep track of other information with the message calendar (after all, it’s just a spreadsheet).

Programs and Campaigns

One additional area we can add is a Program and Campaign section. This will help us keep track of which programs and campaigns the emails are updating our audience on. When an email mentions a specific program area or campaign we mark it in the Program and Campaign section.

Hover over the image to see it filled in with example content (click for a larger version).


Together, a message calendar tracking content in the email template as well as programs and campaigns might look like the example below. Notice that each email has areas marked in the Programs and Campaigns section to note what subjects that email covered. This way, we can always see how we are messaging around a specific program or campaign throughout the year by looking at that specific program’s message calendar row.


Template Totally Filled

Statistics

Another addition that we can add is a Statistics section to track metrics surrounding our email campaigns over time. This way we can keep track of what email content is engaging our audience to open and click and what content is being ignored. In other words, we can start tracking our measurable communications goals and see if we’re actually succeeding.


Stats Template Filled

Other Communications Channels

Another change to consider is if your messaging is not “email centric” and you’d rather see other channels tracked on your calendar. In this example, we have Social Media channels over time rather than sections of the email template:

Hover over the image to see it filled in with example content (click for a larger version).


An alternative to this is to use a simple message calendar for calendaring out your email and, in conjunction, using a Publishing Matrix to coordinate that messaging with your other communications channels.

Exhale. Your Turn!

Calendaring your messaging is a great way to get more organized about your organizational communications as well as be intentional about your appearance in people’s inboxes (no one likes spam.). Whether your goal is to improve the narrative arcs around your campaigns or keep track of messaging from multiple departments, having a document to keep track can save you frustration and time while allowing you to track progress to your goals.

Looking at time as a line like in our message calendar template (vs. in a traditional calendar) allows you to track individual programs, multiple messaging arcs and statistics much easier. If you’re thinking that you might try out our message calendar template, you can download it here (XLS file).

Does this template seem like something that would be useful for your work? What would you change?

How do you calendar your messaging?



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