Managing the Mayhem of Advocacy Communications


In Washington, D.C., one of the first questions people ask at a happy hour or social gathering isn't "how are you?" It's "what do you do?" I struggle to answer this question, because my professional title doesn't come close to explaining the work I actually do on a daily basis. As communicators, we often wear multiple hats. From project management to media monitoring to social content drafting, no day is the same. There are ways to manage the mayhem, though - and planning ahead remains one of the best!

Step one in the planning process involves creating a calendar. It seems pretty simple, and it's probably something you know you should do - but how can you optimize the process? Here's some advice for developing editorial themes to tie your programs together, while still remaining relevant throughout the year:

  • Channel and Audience Flexibility: Your process should accommodate all of your content channels, including website(s), social platforms, paid advertisement channels and traditional public relations channels. One tool probably can't manage all of these needs, but old-fashioned spreadsheets are flexible. They allow for the management of daily, monthly and annual calendars, as well as life cycle and audience tracking for specific pieces of content and editorial themes. If your organization allows Google docs, even better - you won't struggle with version control and the ease of sharing makes it ideal.
  • Managing the Two-Way Process: Depending on the size of your organization, you may work with several internal business units to build out your editorial calendar. In order to stay more aligned, schedule a master brainstorm of high-level annual theme planning every six months. From that, you can break down different teams' programmatic milestones and goals by channel and audience. Implementing a quick editorial alignment call each week with all internal stakeholders will do wonders to keep you all on the same page.
  • Staying Nimble: Unfortunately, we can't plan for everything. Your editorial process should also account for last-minute requests or relevant news hooks. Give internal stakeholders a way to submit these short-term requests via an intake form so that you can triage content accordingly. Most importantly, you need a way to monitor real-time events and engagements, so employ some social media listening tools to help.

I'm feeling more organized already! To get access to more tips for managing the mayhem, visit