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Editorial Calendars and Guest Articles

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Using editorial calendars to find story ideasFrom story ideas to publishing hooks, editorial calendars are a great resource

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

Passion for an idea, an unwavering belief in an ideal or a strong feeling about an issue may motivate a lawyer to write a guest article, an opinion piece or even a letter to the editor.

That comes as no surprise. As advocates, lawyers are accustomed to airing their views in a logical and persuasive manner. But getting a piece published is not always as straightforward as filing a brief.

Sometimes an attorney wants to write a guest article and has several vague ideas but isn’t sure which route to take. (For more ways to come up with story ideas, read “Spotting Story Ideas.”)

Whether you’re trying to settle on a story idea or devising a publication strategy for your piece, editorial calendars can be an important resource.

Disproving the Infinite Monkey Theorem

What is an editorial calendar?

Most magazines, newspapers and other publications plan special editorial features for an entire year and put them on a calendar. In legal publishing, these features may touch on a variety of matters — for instance biggest law firms, technology, marketing your law practice, mediation.

Because some special editorial features are more closely aligned with a particular advertiser’s business than others, advertisers use a publication’s editorial calendar to help select publication dates.

Publicists also use the editorial calendar to help time pitches on behalf of clients. A forthcoming special issue on mediation might serve as a great opportunity to highlight the latest mediation manual published by a client.

Where can you find an editorial calendar?

The easiest way to find an editorial calendar is to simply type into a search engine the name of the publication you’re interested in reaching, along with the words editorial calendar.”

I typed the following search term into Google: Texas Lawyer editorial calendar.

The results sent me to the main advertising Web page for Texas Lawyer. On that page I found a link to the writer’s submission guidelines — the topic I covered on Monday — as well as a link to the 2010 editorial calendar.

Here’s a screenshot of the features planned for July, August and part of September.

How can you use an editorial calendar?

If you have a few vague ideas for guest articles and aren’t sure which one to pick or how to proceed, the editorial calendar may be of help. If an idea is related to an upcoming special feature, you might want to go with that idea first.

Let’s use the Texas Lawyer editorial calendar as a reference. Perhaps you’ve wanted to write about the discovery process but aren’t sure how to focus the piece. In July, the publication plans to include an e-Discovery roundtable. You might want to focus on technology and e-Discovery.

Or perhaps you already have an article written about the banking crisis and consumer regulations in Texas. If you submit it to Texas Lawyer, you may want to mention that you noticed on the editorial calendar an Aug. 2 special report on the topic of banking and finance.

Certainly a publication may choose to run a guest article that is not tied to a special section, but following the calendar increases the odds that an editor will choose to run your well-written piece that follows the submission guidelines.

Does your firm use an editorial calendar as a planning tool for guest article placement or story pitches? If so, let me know whether you think it has been effective. And for more on creating an editorial calendar for your blog, read our previous article on the topic.

A special thanks to Debbie Ohi (a.k.a. Inkygirl) for giving me permission to include her cartoon in this article. Ohi is a multitalented Toronto-based cartoonist, illustrator, freelance writer, photographer and musician. To see more of her work, visit Inkygirl.com or DebbieOhi.com.

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