What should a well-crafted publishing plan look like? Well, it needs to be well-researched and thorough, but not so daunting it never gets done. We've distilled the essentials into this nine-point plan.
A good Publishing Plan should be deeply informed by three key inputs that together determine the scope of what you can accomplish through publishing: Audience, Brand, and Competition. Each of these areas deserves some research, and a paragraph or two in the plan.
Point 1: Definition of the target audience.
Who is our target audience? Is it segmented? (For example, a hot core of “advocates” and a larger group of secondary “consumers.”) What are their habits, desires, needs, pain points? What channels, brands, and publishers do they pay attention to? What kinds of things make them interact?
Point 2: Definition of brand and business objectives.
What specific business objectives do we want publishing to accomplish? What are our brand assets? (Reputation, history, products, social audiences, etc—what we mean to consumers.) What are our business assets? (Staff, budget, partnerships, etc—what can we leverage.)
Point 3: Definition of the competition.
Who else is publishing in this space? Competing for this audience? (Think broadly.) What are best practices we could adopt from competitors? Mistakes to avoid? What’s NOT being done for this group that people are complaining about? What’s NOT being done for this group that nobody’s thought of yet?
Next up is a distillation of these inputs into a proper publishing platform—a clear and reasonably concise definition of what publishing should look like to successfully engage target audiences AND pay off our communications goals.
Point 4: Statement of our unique value proposition.
What do we want to contribute, that our targets want to receive, and that they’re not getting from anywhere else?
Point 5: Statement of communication goals.
What do we want audiences to know, feel, and remember about us? What do we want our targets to do—now and over the long haul.
Point 6: Informed guide to content creation.
A specific definition of ideal on-brand content—how everything we create will be attractive to our audience AND meet our business/communication goals, across the three steps of content creation: production, publishing, and promotion.
Production: Will readers want this? Does it serve our communication goals? Will they remember it came from us? Is it awesome?
Publishing: Are we using best practices? Publishing to all applicable channels? Alerting existing and potential partners?
Promotion: Are we promoting effectively across all our owned channels? Submitting each piece to relevant content-aggregators? Alerting the name-checked and other potential promotional partners?
Now we’re well armed to get into the nuts and bolts of publishing—the plan itself.
Point 7: Detailed production, publishing, and promotion schedule.
As detailed a schedule as we can muster of the daily, weekly, and monthly publishing. As the primary working document for staff, freelancers, and partners, this schedule should be powerfully informed by industry best practices and insights into the target audience, and the brand’s communication goals. We should support only those channels that our targets prefer AND that we’re prepared to commit fully to, utilizing all personnel and budget available. Content creators should be made responsible for the results, not just the publishing.
Point 8: List of specific weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals.
A statement outlining ALL specific weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals, including production goals (how many pieces per week), conversion (how many readers performed our intended action), and audience growth.
Point 9: Schedule of weekly, monthly, and quarterly reviews.
Everyone hates meetings, but this one’s mission critical. To ensure the goals are being met—or find out quickly why they’re not—the Plan should include a weekly meeting to review metrcs results and adjust publishing, a monthly meeting to review/revise the schedule, owners, budget, and best practices, and a quarterly meeting to review/revise business and communication objectives and target audiences.
And that’s it. A great plan is no guarantee of success—but without it, you’re flying blind and trusting to luck. If you’re interested in hearing more about putting an actionable plan together for your business, let’s talk.
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