One of the biggest questions we get when we start discussing content calendars with organizations already engaged in social is how adaptable a content plan needs to be – do we recommend sticking to it at all times, or are there times when organizations can deviate from their schedule.
Our answer is always “Be adaptable.” Content calendars are there to keep your marketing and communications on track, to ensure that you don’t have to sit down every morning and come up with items to discuss, and to make sure your communications all say the same thing to the same audience. However, there are several instances when we recommend going “off track.” Here are just a few:
Emergencies – Emergencies can be big (think national tragedies or large scale weather events like a hurricanes) or localized (like intense summer storms). Your organization may have news it needs to get out that immediately relates to the emergency, so its fine to go off track here. And if even if you don’t need to get important information out, during the time of a national tragedy or large or small scale weather event, some of your messages might not be appropriate, so revisit any scheduled messages to make sure they don’t offend or negatively impact your organization.
Product/Service Schedule Changes – We all know that production schedules can go awry, and sometimes, you change your service offerings. When you do, make sure that your content calendar changes accordingly. If your product or service launch is delayed by a few weeks, it can be a matter of simply shifting when your messages happen. If its a larger change, you may need to shift your schedule with additional messages.
PR Crises – PR issues can happen to the best of companies. If you find yourself in the middle of a PR crisis, check your content schedule. Make sure the messages are appropriate to go, and, if they aren’t, modify the content so that they better reflect the tone you are trying to convey in your crisis messaging.
“Surprise” Events – Surprise events can happen – your company wins an award, a news story pops sooner than you thought, or (if you are a very lucky nonprofit) you get a large donation. If you have a “surprise” event happen, add it to your schedule!
There are always exceptions to every rule, so if you think your planned messages aren’t “right,” manage your content schedule accordingly!