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6 Free Platforms and Apps Essential for Solo Communicators

Let’s face it. Many communicators in government agencies serve as a one-man-band, where the role can quickly become a catch-all for all things marketing and promotion. Combined with limited to non-existent budgets, government communicators must get creative to share their agency’s message. Thankfully, there are several useful and free platforms and apps to help communicators execute their varied roles with ease.

1) Canva

Canva is an online tool that allows users to create professional-looking graphics with ease. With its drag-and drop features and customizable templates, Canva is a must-have in any solo communicator’s toolbox.

Free features

  • 8,000+ free templates
  • 100+ design types (social media posts, presentations, letters, and more)
  • Hundreds of thousands of free photos and graphics

2) iMovie

With iMovie for iOS and macOS, Apple users can easily create high-impact video.  Simply choose your clips, then add titles, music and effects. The platform also supports 4K video. For PC and Android users, try Windows Movie Maker and Movavi for your video editing needs.

Free features

  • Studio-quality titles
  • Special effects
  • 10 filter options
  • 80 soundtrack options

3) Unsplash

Unsplash takes royalty free, stock photos to the next level. Easily search and download high-quality photos for any of your agency’s marketing materials, or as the foundation for custom graphics. Users do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible, according to the Unplash website.

Free features

4) Buffer

Although far from the only social media management platform on the market, several features help Buffer stand out among its competitors. Mainly its affordability. Buffer’s free version allows users to manage up to three social accounts from its interface. Users can create, schedule and re-purpose posts via desktop or mobile. The platform’s free version can get the job done for a solo communicator getting started with social media management. However, many users find they need to upgrade to least Buffer’s Pro package to add up to 8 social accounts.

Free features

  • 3 social accounts, 10 scheduled posts, 1 user
  • View 30-day history of sent posts
  • Simplified link shortening
  • Access to Blog with social media and online marketing tips

5) MailChimp

Although social media gets most of the love nowadays, old-fashioned email is still an effective way to connect with audiences. However, today, those emails need to be visually appealing to be effective. Platforms like MailChimp make creating eye-catching, professional email marketing and digital newsletters easier than ever.  The platform’s free plan can get new users started.

Free features

6) Google Drive

You likely already use Google Drive, but are you using it to its full capacity? The free plan grants users 15 GB of storage space for everything from basic documents, to photos and videos. Easily create shareable sheets and slides within a user-friendly digital filing system, complete with adjustable permissions. The platform allows for basic collaboration on documents, and serves as the perfect file transfer solution for media and other stakeholders.

Free features

  • Encrypted using SSL, the same security protocol used on Gmail
  • Drive can recognize objects in your images and text in scanned documents
  • Google Forms lets you run a survey or quickly create a team roster with a simple online form

As your needs and team develop, you may have to upgrade to paid accounts. However, starting off with these free versions will help you assess your needs and effectively make a pitch to your higher ups that these tools are worth the reasonable investment. Enjoy the mobile version of these platforms to stay productive on the go.

Kelda Senior is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a business development and accredited public relations professional from Florida. For the past 10 years, Kelda has served as a communications and community outreach specialist in local, state and federal government, with an emphasis on the transportation sector since 2012. Kelda is the owner of Senior Communications LLC, a boutique public relations firm focused on helping emerging brands cultivate their message and move their audiences to action. Kelda holds a B.A. in journalism and a master of public administration – both from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. You can read her posts here.

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