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20 low-cost (or free) creative comms ideas 

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20 low-cost (or free) creative comms ideas 

Think you can’t do creative comms on a budget?

Then think again.

Take a leaf from the books of these big brands…Just this month, Morrisons unveiled a new value range of over 250 products from just 20p, British Airways has launched its new super cheap basic fares on long-haul flights and Lidl is selling a budget version of Meghan Markle’s  £120 Finlay and Co swanky shades for £2.99, just in time for the summer …

Inspired by these bargains we’ve put together this comprehensive list of ways you can work to a tight budget and do fabulously creative comms on a shoestring – no fancy comms bling required.


#1  Enlist ‘local cheerleaders’. Recruit a core team of staff from all departments across the business to help support the roll-out of campaigns and initiatives and to feed back the voices and opinions of others. This is particularly useful when you’re a ‘team of one’.

#2  Discover your goldmine of skills. Do some research into the wealth of knowledge that exists around you before calling in a costly expert or consultant. You might find that Fiona from finance is a whizz with a camera and Alan from accounts is a graphic facilitation guru… Build and cultivate internal skills to help save money and boost engagement.

#3  Contact community and art groups. Speak to a local group or college about how they can get involved in your campaigns. Not only are they likely to be keen to support a local business, they’ll help you develop something unique and super creative.

#4  Borrow with pride. If you like something that someone else has produced, inside or outside of your business, don’t be shy, get in touch and ask them if you can repurpose the work. Find it, get permission, and give credit where credit’s due!

#5  A little help goes a long way. Keep the cost down by asking an agency to ‘kick off’ a project but implement the work internally or vice versa – get a project ‘almost there’ and then hand it over to a supplier to give it a polish.


#6  Storyboard it. Craft a storyboard to communicate your ideas clearly, plan your videos effectively and tell your stories creatively. Canva’s stock library includes over a million stock images, graphics and illustrations, many of which are free of charge.

#7  Shoot your own stories. A smart looking video needn’t mean you have to hire costly equipment or employ the services of a full production team. It’s perfectly possible to shoot short and professional videos on your own phone.

#8  Get everyone involved! The award-winning Seenit app is a video collaboration tool. It allows you to produce high impact video at scale by getting your community involved and is significantly more cost effective than a film crew. It encourages employees to be content creators and helps turn them into brand advocates at the same time!

#9  Terrific typefaces. If you’re looking for some funky fonts, free of charge, then look no further. This articlefrom Creative Boom shares 16 different sources all generously offering some super creative typefaces.

#10  Make your own Gifs. According to some reports, more than 80 percent of communication in 2018 will be visual. Use your own photos or videos to create these little animated beauties with Giphy’s free Gif maker to remain on-trend.

#11  Find the right photo. Remaining on the subject of visuals, stock photos needn’t cost a fortune. Sites like Unsplash offer high quality, free images that you can use for any purpose, no attribution required. Or try Pikwizard, an excellent new stock photography website that has over 100,000 high-quality images, with 20,000 of these being completely exclusive. Pikwizard prides itself on its high-quality images of people, which are rare on stock photo sites. (A note of caution here – there’s no substitute for images of the actual employees that represent your organisation, so keep it real when it comes to your people shots.)

#12  Listen up! Add music and sound effects to your videos and animations for free by using resources like Bensoundfreesound or Free Music Archive who work under the Creative Commons License. You can generally use the music for free as long as you credit the producer with a link.

#13  Create engaging animations. Create attention grabbing animated videos without the need for a large budget or a team of animators. Try apps like PowToonGoAnimate or Adobe Spark. Each has a free version, as you’d expect.


#14  Join groups on social media and engage! LinkedIn groups for example are populated by like-minded comms pros from across the globe that are ready and waiting to share their experiences. Before trying out potentially costly exploratory ideas, run them by a network of people who are likely to have been there and done that.

#15  Have less meetings! (or get smarter with the ones you do go to) Meetings take time, can be costly affairs and often don’t even accomplish the desired outcome. Try not to drag colleagues around quite so much or even consider a remote WhatsApp meeting. Your time is valuable – too many unnecessary meetings will eat into your creative thinking time or crush it altogether.

#16  Repeat after me. Try to implement techniques that have scope for repeat use. Even if there’s an initial outlay, choose a solution that can be used time and time again. A templated approach to your comms works wonders for saving time and keeping costs down.

Personal development

#17  Be a bookworm. Book Clubs like CIPR Inside’s #ICBookClub are a great way to soak up a new subject and they often recommend discounted comms books too. Try tools like Blinkist – they pull out key insights and explain them in an easy-to-digest, 15-minute summary of over 2000 non-fiction books. With the free version you can only read the daily pick but the paid version, at less than £5 a month gives you access to a stack of inspiring reads. Try Big Magic, Creativity, Inc or Deep Work to give your creativity a big boost.

#18  Research free or low cost knowledge sharing events. Consider taking managers or colleagues along as part of their personal development journey. Comms2Point0 for example run some excellent free or low cost events that are packed to the rafters with creative comms experts, bursting with top ideas and inspiration.

#19  Join a free webinar, tutorial or online class. There are loads of classes, webinars and podcasts that you can watch, listen to and learn from on a lunch break. Many offer free trials or heavily discounted options. They’re short, bite-sized sessions that ensure you’re up to date with some of the most creative topics of the day. Keep an eye on creative thought leaders like NowGoCreateCreativeLive or to see what they’re offering.

#20  Sign up to receive inspiring emails. Ensure you have a fresh supply of inspiration delivered directly to your inbox every day by signing up to receive emails from creative comms greats like All Things IC, BananatagPoppuloComms2Point0, and Helen Reynolds’ Comms Cartoons. They’re always packed with top ideas, case studies and brilliant best practice and you’ll frequently find something a little different.

High-impact, low-cost comms

Technology, fancy new tools and pricey platforms will always be available for those who have the cash. But that doesn’t mean you should sign up to them all. We blogged about this very point – how Magpie Syndrome can entice us towards the latest shiny tools. Sometimes, getting back to basics is good enough, often it’s even more productive and allows you to try out something new without committing to a significant outlay.

So get your creative shizzle on and try out some of these super cheap ideas.

We’d love to know how you get on.

Tweet us @alivewithideas to share your thoughts and experiences.

Learn how to maximise the impact of your campaign in the Academy masterclass…

6 Steps to Successful Creative Campaigns

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“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

“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 —

“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

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“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

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“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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