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Empowering Your School With A Powerful Editorial Calendar

University creatives and higher education marketers… this one’s for you! It doesn’t matter where you work on campus—whether it’s  admiss...

University creatives and higher education marketers… this one’s for you! It doesn’t matter where you work on campus—whether it’s  admissions, student life, or athletics, visual storytelling is essential for driving meaningful interaction with staff, alumni, current students, and prospective students.

When your school doesn’t have a long term visual storytelling strategy, content marketing becomes reactive.

To develop a proactive, innovative creative content marketing strategy, we encourage you to develop an editorial calendar that supports both annual campus initiatives and daily news highlights, like a commencement keynote speaker announcement. 

For example, environmental sustainability might be a campus-wide campaign initiative which could easily become overwhelming between the research, creative deliverable production, rounds of feedback and collaboration. 

A simplified editorial calendar simply lists out the marketing or communications initiatives or campaigns your organization should be focused on promoting on a given day, week, month, or quarter. Whereas a more advanced editorial calendar can help map out the collaborative, interdepartmental initiatives or campaigns subtasks and specific deliverables.

Here’s how to build an editorial calendar that works for your school—let’s go!

Evergreen Content

An editorial calendar serves as a guiding tool that shapes and streamlines your school’s visual storytelling goals. To truly optimize your content strategy, it’s crucial to embrace the power of evergreen content. Evergreen means everlasting, so evergreen content should always remain relevant and valuable regardless of the year or current trends. This type of content creates a sustainable source of audience engagement and a remarkable return-on-investment (ROI). 

By strategically incorporating evergreen content into your school’s editorial calendar, you can establish a solid foundation that cultivates lasting connections, maximizes your resources, and strikes a balance between timely updates and timeless storytelling.

While timely news updates are essential for keeping your audience informed, evergreen content adds a layer of depth and consistency to your content strategy. Find the content that works for your school and your community, and add it to your editorial calendar at a regular cadence. 

Retelling the Story

Reimagining your stories and capturing the attention of your target audience requires a touch of creativity. It’s time to debunk the myth that your message has already reached its intended destination—it’s like a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. 

In today’s content-saturated world, people are drowning in an ocean of information.our posts can get lost in the digital abyss due to complex social media algorithms, but fear not! Breathing new life into your most successful visual content by repurposing what already works is one of the best ways to ensure maximum ROI of your creative assets.

Don’t be shy to change up copy, switch out an image, and hit that “publish” button again and again to make sure your brand content makes an impression on and impacts your audience.t.

As technology tools continue to evolve, higher education teams must optimize the workflow tools that enable campus-wide content marketing and communications teams to do their best work. .

For example, if your school’s ‘About Us’ page features only static images, you might be in need of a visual storytelling refresh! Incorporating contemporary elements like drone footage, embedded TikTok posts from student ambassadors, and sharing authentic student experiences through audio clips add nuance and texture to a school’s narrative. Explore different angles, like the point of view of your institution’s alumni, the multigenerational families that have attended, or even the history of the land your school was founded on.. 

By adding new visual elements to old stories, or simply updating website text to reflect the inclusive language of the time, your institution’s history can become a living, breathing entity that captivates your audience’s imagination and showcases your school community’s collective persona.

Case Study: Yale Admissions Videos 2001, 2010, 2021

In the ever-evolving landscape of admissions videos, institutions like Yale have recognized the need to adapt and engage their diverse audience, which includes parents and prospective students. Let’s take a look at the evolution of Yale’s admissions videos over the years, starting with a glimpse into their approach in 2001.

The 2001 video followed a traditional formula, featuring a cast of characters representing diverse ethnicities in various campus settings. While it highlighted the Yale name and showcased the architectural beauty, it lacked the distinctiveness that set it apart from other admissions videos.

Fast forward nearly a decade later, and Yale took a bold and innovative step with a student-produced video that captured the attention of prospective students. This video, released around the same time as the popular TV show “Glee,” embraced a quirky approach centered around a prospective student asking a tour guide why he chose Yale. 

Leveraging the power of song and dance as a narrative device, the video became a sensation, going viral with nearly 2 million views. It was a groundbreaking departure from the norm and remains the most popular video ever produced by Yale.

Real-Time Storytelling

It’s crazy to think that most of us have a high-definition, broadcast studio in our pocket. Satellite dishes on television vans have given way to iPhones with apps like Instagram, Twitter and TikTok that allow us to reach millions of people in real time.

Real-time storytelling is largely unfiltered and “authentic.” It informs and engages. It satisfies FOMO (fear of missing out). It often replaces  traditional storytelling and provides your audience with access to behind-the-scenes moments they might never see broadcasted.
Sports are an obvious real-time storytelling opportunity, but so are art performances, student rallies,  commencement speeches, and even live streamed lectures. Real-time storytelling isn’t just about streaming content in the moment. It also includes capturing and sharing exclusive, live content as events unfold, and quickly transmitting photos directly to social media (FTP for the win!).

Case Study: UCLA Quidditch Team

For UCLA, this popular video deviated from the expected focus on traditional Division I sports teams. Instead, it showcased their Quidditch team – yes, the fictional sport from Harry Potter. Surprisingly, Quidditch has become a nationwide club sport, and UCLA found a compelling way to highlight a quirkier side of the extracurricular experience, captivating their audience’s imagination.

This video demonstrates the importance of embracing creativity and finding unique ways to engage prospective students and parents in the admissions process. By breaking free from conventional approaches and tapping into pop culture or showcasing unexpected aspects of campus life, institutions have successfully captured the attention of their audience, leaving a lasting impression and setting themselves apart in the competitive world of college admissions.

Your Turn: Tips for Developing An Editorial Calendar!

Here are some pro tips to help you get started with developing your school’s editorial calendar: 

  1. Your first step is to build a calendar of key school community events and milestones that happen every year like homecoming, graduation, or alumni reunions. These should be your Evergreen Content tentpoles. By strategically building content plans around these annual events, you can build anticipation and create engaging, timely content that resonates with your audience’s sense of school pride and tradition. Plus, by building the campaign once, you can update the look and feel of graphics year-over-year to retell the same story in a better way!
  1. Create fun teaser content to generate excitement and anticipation around major initiatives or campaigns you have planned. This could involve releasing short videos, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, or intriguing teasers that offer a glimpse into the upcoming content. Teasers not only build anticipation but also serve as a powerful tool for generating buzz and ensuring that your larger content receives maximum engagement and impact. 
  1. Don’t limit your storytelling to a single iteration. Explore different perspectives, angles, or formats that can breathe new life into existing stories. For example, you could retell a founding story from the perspective of a current student, highlight the impact of a long-standing program through alumni testimonials, or transform a written article into an engaging video. By reimagining and retelling stories in fresh and captivating ways, you can reach new audiences and maintain a sense of excitement and relevance around familiar narratives.
  1. Embrace the power of real-time storytelling and share live campus news updates as they unfold. This could involve setting up live streaming broadcasts of sports matches, performances,  guest lectures, or even sharing social media updates during campus events. By creating an efficient, streamlined workflow to help your entire campus document and share real-time content with ease, you can create a sense of urgency (the good kind of FOMO!), foster audience engagement, and showcase the dynamism of your school’s activities.

Elevate your school’s visual storytelling by implementing the valuable evergreen tips and insights from our guide! Take your content strategy to new heights and captivate your audience with compelling visuals and engaging narratives.

Ready to transform your team’s creative workflow?