Creative communications tools

There are lots of creative communications tools you can use — many of them with free versions — that can help you attract leads to your business. Some of these tools integrate well with inbound marketing and others serve to boost complementary strategies.

While the focus of this series is on business uses, most of these tools can also be used for non-profits. We’ll take a look at some of the most popular and useful tools.

5 Creative communications tools you need to know about

1) Got a special event coming up? Maybe you’re launching a new product or you’ve offering a great webinar and want a huge, worldwide audience. There are a couple of ways you can live stream it. The first way is through holding a Google Plus Hangout On Air. There is quite a bit you need to know about this process, so I won’t go into detail here, but check the article for details.

You need to become familiar with Google+ and sit through a few of these sessions before you attempt to do one of your own, but they are becoming a very popular way to gain an audience. There are several wonderful features about Google Plus Hangout On Air. First, they are free, second, they are simultaneously recorded by YouTube and then posted for later viewing, and you can embed links to the hangouts on your website and Facebook for your audience to watch your hangouts in those locations.

2) Another creative communications tool that allows you to live stream an event is Ustream. This service allows anyone with an internet connection and a camera to broadcast by creating a channel for their organization, just like YouTube. You can also record your event for later use. The basic plan is free.

3) Get your own free radio show on BlogTalkRadio. You need a phone and a computer to create your own online radio show, and then you can share it everywhere by linking it to social media or uploading to iTunes, your blog or more It’s a great way to create downloadable podcasts for your website.

Just a word of warning — it’s very easy to start a radio show, but difficult to keep it up. It’s important to keep to a schedule once you begin. That means you should commit to a certain time every week and plan for several months in advance if you are going to have a successful radio show.

4) If you’re a photographer, realtor or other business that depends on people being able to see your products, Animoto will be a great tool for you. Unless you’re a non-profit, there’s not a free version of this, but it’s quite affordable if you use it often. It’s a service that takes your still photos and videos and combines them — along with any stock photos you might want to throw in — into templates, then adds royalty-free music for very easy and sharp-looking videos. You can then upload these videos to your own website, blog, Facebook, etc. The one downside is that there’s apparently no way to incorporate speech into the videos, but you can incorporate title slides.

5) When you need to communicate face-to-face and one-on-one but you are miles apart, sometimes technology is the answer. One solution is Eyejot. There have been a number of video email solutions available at various times, but this is a really simple, free one that allows you to create and receive video messages in a self-contained spam free environment. There’s no client to install and it works on any browser or platform. It features built-in support for iTunes, mobile devices and social networks.

You can install it on your website, too. People without Eyejot can contact you, too. What a great way to make your website interactive and position yourself as an expert. You can promote special Q&A times when you will be available to answer questions about your niche.

These are just a few of the creative communications tools that are available to help you do your work easier, better and with more verve today as a marketer, PR professional and business owner. Ultimately, the proof of their worth is whether they help you bring in more business. You must keep your eye on that goal, and don’t get sidelined by thinking that the tool itself is the strategy. Begin with the goal in mind — not the tool — and work backwards from there.

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