What’s an editorial foresight calendar? For media strategists and producers, a foresight calendar is a list of all the events on the calendar, usually for the upcoming year, that will be newsworthy. In particular, the calendar includes events that might be opportunities to capture engagement due to timely interest.
As we ring in the new year, often writers and publishers like to commemorate with a touch of nostalgia and a tinge of hindsight for events that happened in years past.
How can we forget that 10 years ago, in 2008, the Feds bailed out a failed banking system; the stock market crashed; and Barack Obama was elected president? Fifty years ago, in 1968, Vietnam launched the Tet Offensive; Apollo orbited the Earth; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in Memphis. Some 110 years ago, on January 1, 1908, the ball signifying the new year dropped at Times Square for the first time; and Mother’s Day was first observed in Philadelphia.
To writers, historical events hold their resonance, as all futures yet to be written are intricately linked to the past. “The characteristic more essential than any other is foresight,” Theodore Roosevelt once said. “It should be the growing nation with a future which takes the long look ahead.”
Whether you’re an editor, publisher, influencer, marketer or business owner, preparing an editorial foresight calendar gives you time to be less reactive and more responsive. Keeping notable events on your radar throughout the year helps you stay ahead of the curve, allowing staff to investigate creative perspectives and angles to upcoming events that impact culture, society and politics.
It gives you time to build a repository of materials: relevant visuals, photos, graphics and timelines, allowing for more effective infographics that give a bird’s-eye view of issues and trends. Also, it could help you secure and interview sources when you’re not bogged down with a tight deadline. Long-ranging perspectives in your visuals, quotes and stories give a sense of preparedness and depth, when notable events are seen from a vista.
Tips to curating your editorial foresight calendar and keeping it current
- Each event should include: start and end dates; name; location; hyperlink to more information; and a searchable tag to allow you to sort through events by category.
- Limiting your event categories will help you search thematically and string events into forward-looking content that could track policies and trends that link events to purposes and outcomes your audiences are following.
- Being conscientious of the locations of notable events in your calendar allows you to tailor and scale your events coverage in different geographic regions. You might want to tailor your content to specific regional customer bases as well.
- If you work in a specific industry or sector, the categories you use and the events you include could be more aligned to main conferences and forums where industry influencers exchange ideas.
- Updating the editorial calendar should be a monthly task for someone on your editorial team.
- Use the foresight calendar during brainstorming meetings and as an idea tracker. When ideas are flowing, or new angles and links are discussed, record them in the calendar with a mindset that content can be repurposed at different points in the year as well.
- Some go even a bit further with their editorial foresight calendar by attaching the writers to cover the events, mapping the content into categories (including keywords and meta data); and adding a “publish by” date.
Most anticipated events for 2018
Here’s a summary of some anticipated events that might impact culture, politics and trends in 2018, or at least hold a bright light in our memories for the year. Find dates and links to more info for these and 300+ additional events in the downloadable calendar template.
- The 2018 Winter Olympics hosted in PyeongChang County in South Korea will feature more than 100 events in 15 winter sports. The country to beat will be Norway, which has won more gold medals at the Winter Olympics than any other nation.
- The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle will likely draw more than 40 million viewers (estimated viewers in 2011 for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s nuptials were ~25 million in the U.K. and ~23 million in the U.S.). For this American-celebrity-meets-her-prince event, world viewership will attract fans from both sides of the pond. Keep to up to date at the Royal Family’s official website.
- The total lunar eclipse in January 2018 will be visible from North America, with totality visible for the longest periods in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. Though lunar eclipses are not as infrequent as total solar eclipses, the last total lunar eclipse (aka “blood moon”) over the U.S. mainland was in September 2015.
- The Global Climate Action Summit, spurred by California Governor Jerry Brown after the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, will host global leaders, activists and climate change experts in a summit to address science-based action plans to alleviate the potential effects of climate change.
- The tentative SpaceX flight of two private citizens around the moon in late 2018 is perhaps the TBD event of the decade. Compared to the Apollo 8 mission, Elon Musk’s promised ride would be an historic event for all humankind. Hopefully, this ride won’t face delays like the Tesla Model 3. Read more in The Washington Post’s February 2017 article.
- Gubernatorial elections in 36 U.S. states will have deep implications to democracy when framed through the lens of Governors’ powers to redistrict amid the Supreme Court’s decision that attempted to limit gerrymandering.
- U.S. Congressional elections show 33 seats will be contested in the Senate, while all 435 seats in the House will be up for grabs. Given the effects of sexual harassment scrutiny of government representatives resulting in recent resignations and retirements, more Senate seats could be up before Nov. 6.
- NASA’s Mars InSight will embark on a mission to Mars with an expected launch in May 2018 and landing in Elysium Planitia, Mars in November 2018. InSight’s goal is to get the Red Planet’s vital signs: probing for seismology, heat flow and precision tracking, and ultimately answering the question of how such planets like Mars and Earth were formed.
- The 2018 FIFA World Cup, hosted by Russia, pits 31 teams to the finish, with Germany defending their title. The FIFA World Cup felt feverish when tiny, little Iceland surprised everyone (when it upset England), and qualified for the World Cup.
Download a baseline editorial foresight calendar template and start tracking ideas
The ClearVoice team has created a downloadable 2018 Editorial Foresight Calendar Template, an MS Excel workbook pre-populated with more than 300 notable events and gatherings that stretch across the globe. Major events were picked from interest areas such as politics, arts and culture, technology, science, entertainment and sports. Trade shows related to marketing and media were included for ClearVoice’s audiences.
You can download it and use it right away, or create one like it with your industry-specific notable events. The foresight calendar is set up to be a baseline template that you can add to and extract from as needed, or that you can import into Google Sheets or other apps to collaborate on with your team. Each event is set up using the tips above and includes a URL to gather more information about the events as needed.
How you decide to shape your editorial calendar depends largely upon the audiences you serve and the niche markets you want to target. What’s offered here will get you started.