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Creativity in digital channels: it’s what you do with them that counts

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Creativity in digital channels: it’s what you do with them that counts

How do you keep your digital channels alive in a busy workplace?…

We talk a lot about digital channels, platforms and tools like Workplace, Yammer and plenty of others – technology created to aid internal communication.

As superfans of creativity, we’re always keen to explore how communicators are keeping the content on these platforms stimulating and inspiring.

We were recently invited to run a table session at the #SmileLondon conference (Social Media in the Large Enterprise). Naturally, we started the conversation with some questions on creativity…

  • What are communicators doing on digital that they consider to be creative?
  • What keeps content sticky?
  • And what can others learn from all this?

Here’s a summary and some tips shared during the conversation:

People and skills

Having a team of content creators can help with keeping things fresh, whether that be for audio, video, written or other or you can share the load and vary the output by empowering others in the business to get involved. To do this they’ll need the skills – do they know what makes a good Facebook Live video? How do they create a visual to support their post? What makes well written content?

How you can help: They may need some guidance from you. Create toolkits and pocket guides that will help with this. Include top tips, quick-fire suggestions and a list of useful resources along with details of where they can go for more information.

Consider a range of content types and formats including:

  • Stories and storytelling in all formats (written, audio, video, animation, etc.)
  • Video – decide whether a raw iPhone shot video will do or a bigger production is needed
  • Animation
  • Snackable content like 60 second stories (video)
  • Live video
  • TV show format
  • Gamification – quizzes and rewards for action
  • Gifs – particularly incorporating Senior Leaders

Working out loud

Encouraging a working out loud approach can be powerful. Documenting and sharing your work and the work of others helps everyone to understand what’s going on in the business. Sharing content that doesn’t normally get seen, the work that goes on behind closed doors, makes the work of leaders more tangible and understandable to all. One way to get creative with this could be to hire a visual note taker to visualise the next strategy meeting and share the results on your channels. It’s a great way to bring facts and figures to life, sharing direction in a bold and eye-catching way.

Name and brand it 

When you commit to a regular comms activity, give it an identity and provide stakeholders with something to connect with. Name and brand it. Make it memorable (alliteration or theming works well here). Make it sound interesting even before anyone’s watched, listened to or read it.


As we know, one size fits all is not an approach you’re likely to be taking in comms, digital or otherwise. So take some time to think about how different audiences prefer to receive information.

  • Know your stakeholders and audiences and tailor the approach appropriately
  • Use the most suitable format, tone and creative approach
  • Make content and messaging informal where possible.

Turn up the employee voice

With employee voice being a critical factor in the success or otherwise of an organisation, it’s important to spot opportunities to get creative with how you seek the views of your employees and allow stakeholders to influence decisions.

  • Use your digital platforms to enable employees to share thoughts and opinions, suggest day-to-day improvements and contribute towards ideas and innovation
  • Get employees involved in problem solving – a perfect example being the employee who uploaded an image of a broken IT kit and receives a direct response from the IT Director
  • Champion the creation of user generated content from across the business like live blogging and video
  • Encourage leaders and employees to take an informal approach and work out loud.

Tools matter, but so does your content

Having access to cutting-edge tools can be useful but you don’t always need high-end technological wizardry. With the right mind-set and a creative approach you can create interesting content from everyday software like PowerPoint – yes, you can! There are lots of other tools and apps to help you design creative visual content too – try Canva, Biteable, Animoto, Adobe Spark or Ripl.

How you can help: When encouraging others to generate content, create templates to help them get started. Encourage them to build on these templates rather than feel restricted by them. Make it easy by developing a suite of icons and graphics for them to use.

Top tips for your overall approach

  1. Think aboutcontent not channels
  2. Mix external and internal – borrow visual assets and content from both
  3. Having support from Senior Leaders who are active can have a massive impact – if they lead the way, others will follow
  4. Recognition – a simple ‘thanks’ or ‘well done’ from someone goes a long way
  5. Equally, it’s important to provide feedback, but in an appropriate and timely way.  ‘Praise in public and criticise in private,’ says Kim Scott in Radical Candor. This approach applies online just as much as off.

In summary…

Ultimately, as consumers we all want to be inspired, stimulated, informed and entertained by the information we receive. Taking a creative approach is crucial when using digital and social channels in much the same way as it is with more traditional methods of communication. Time and effort is still required to create cut-through content that makes a connection.

Creativity and flair will always be required, because while we need to remain open and accessible, it’s not just about the shiny digital channels we continue to adopt, it’s what we do with them that counts.

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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