Content marketing must-haves: Time triggers

A framework to help you plan what you should be talking about when...

 Content marketing must-haves: Time triggers

One of the key elements to cover in any editorial calendar is topicality: what you want to be talking about and when. But topicality is more than just trying to tie your messages in with what happens to be going on in the news.

When scoping out your editorial calendar, it can be helpful to divide time triggers into 4 key areas. An effective editorial calendar will take into account each of these areas, and plan for each in the mix that’s right for you and your users…

Internal events

These are things that are happening within your organisation that can be turned into useful content.

Examples might include the publication of a new whitepaper or survey, a new product or service that you can create some interesting content around, or the hiring of a new person who can offer some insights or thought leadership. In the latter examples, the hire or the new product wouldn’t be the content itself, but it might provide the hook for some more editorial content. 

External events

These are things happening in the wider world which can trigger relevant content ideas. These could include calendar milestones (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or the end of the tax year); planned events, from the Olympics to the start of auto-enrolment; and unpredictable news stories, from a PR disaster to a royal engagement.

Planned events are particularly useful to the content marketer because they enable you to see ahead things that you know will be topical. This means that you can plan and create content in advance that will also seem topical at the time of publication.

With external triggers, the trick is use the event as a trigger for ideas that you can credibly execute from within your content niche. So if you’re a software provider or management consultancy, the news of a government IT disaster might prompt an article about contingency planning. Or again, the Oscars could be a trigger for a cosmetics company to launch a series of videos in which make-up artists show you how to get that red-carpet look for less. 

What you want to avoid, above all, is the tenuous hook that yokes your business to a topical trigger in a way that lacks plausibility or credibility. The London Olympics was the trigger for a mass outbreak of tenuous hooks along the lines of ‘What Usain Bolt’s training style can teach you about air conditioning’. 

Production events

All too often overlooked, production events are the internal factors that affect your ability to plan, create and deliver content. These might include the absence of key team members, changes to your platform or CMS, and updates to your seo policy.

All these elements need to be factored in, because without the right resources, even the best plans and ideas will never be fully realised. Editorial calendars usually capture themes and platforms, but often they fail to take account of the impact of key absences. These need to be anticipated and planned for. Can you make sure that key content people aren’t away at the same time? Can you stockpile some content assets as such contingencies? 

User events

These are things that happen in the business season of your clients, prospects and users. The more you know about your users, the more you can factor these in to your editorial planning. They might include:

  • Industry seasonality: When are your users most in market? When are their budgets signed off? What are the key events like tradeshows and season launches? When is their attention elsewhere?  
  • Holiday periods: There’s little point in crafting and distributing loads of great content in August if you know that’s traditionally when most people in your world are on leave.
  • Time of day/week: When is the best time to reach people (and on what device)? Those marketing to teachers, for instance, often find the best time to email is outside of school hours, on a weekend or evening.