Today’s PR and marketing professionals are expected to handle a wide range of responsibilities, from creating marketing collateral to analyzing campaigns to distributing content. Managing all these tasks by hand would grind productivity to a halt, so it’s no wonder many marketers use more than 100 programs.

It’s also hard to get your job done if you’re waiting on graphic designers, copywriters and other employees or contractors. Sometimes you need a quick turn around to meet deadlines or leverage a new trend.

You don’t need to break your budget to handle the program load your marketing and PR campaigns require, you just need to take a look at some of these free and low cost tools.

1. Canva

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 2.41.50 PM
Image: screenshot

Not every marketing and PR department has the benefit of on-demand graphic design support. Instead of being at the mercy of a graphic designer’s heavy schedule, provides easy and fast graphic creation.

Their free templates will give you a starting point for marketing collateral, a social media post or a blog infographic ­– making it an excellent tool for quick images that don’t need the graphic designer’s touch.

2. Scripted

Image: screenshot

Today’s marketing campaigns require a large amount of content, and you don’t always have the time to handle it yourself. At least for me, it’s quicker to edit than to create content from scratch. Just fill out a form with the topic and guidelines, and in five days or less you have a draft.

Scripted’s (paid) service provides you with professional content to fuel your content marketing campaigns, where expert writers can draft blog posts, white papers or even tweets.

3. Evernote

Evernote image in the Google Play store.
Image: Evernote image in the Google Play store

I love-love-love Evernote. If you never go to a meeting without a notepad, you’re a to-do list maker, an organizer of content you’ve gathered from different sources, and are the type to have your Documents desktop folder full of folders and subfolders – this app is for you too!

I started out using the free version, but after a few weeks, happily upgraded to the premium subscription. My favorite features are: using it across its desktop, iPad and iPhone apps; being able to add audio recordings to a note (great backup, right inside the note); adding photos to notes (always use for event notes); and the business card photo option that pulls the information into a contact note. From “random ideas” to “grocery list” to “XYZ product launch” – my notes are organized, light-weight and easily accessed.

4. Dollar Photo Club

Screenshot of search of "blog"
Image: screenshot (search results for: blog)

Don’t have the time and resources for your own photographer, and iStockPhoto is draining your budget? Dollar Photo Club is exactly what it sounds like: a stock image site where every high quality picture only costs $1.

I’m also a fan of Flickr’s Creative Commons area, but Dollar Photo Club is currently my go-to site for high quality, low cost images.

5. Powtoons

Screenshot from
Image: screenshot (creating an animated video)

Animated videos and presentations have significant visual appeal, but you don’t always have the resources on hand to create them as needed. This service provides free and paid tiers for creating cute presentations and videos. There are many templates to choose from when you want to do a quick social post, or add a little more color to your presentation.

Screenshot from Google Trends search on "National Ice Cream Day."
Image: Google Trends screenshot (search results for National Ice Cream Day)

Stay on top of popular keywords and discover what’s relevant to your audience by watching Google Trends, or compare the past and present search volume of keywords. For example, is National Ice Cream Day usually a big deal? Check Google Trends to see how it trended in the past. I like to use Google Trends to help predict which special day/week/month will most likely trend, and may be worth a marketing tie-in.

Bonus Tool: “When is National Ice Cream Day?” you might ask. Chases’ Calendar of Events is a great paid resource for finding out the special days of the year, but the not as visually appealing (but it’s free) resource is the National Day Calendar site.

7. SurveyMonkey or Ask Your Target Market (AYTM)

I’m a fan of both SurveyMonkey and AYTM for gathering valuable data from your potential and existing customers. SurveyMonkey is great for quick and easy surveys, and I tend to use Ask Your Target Market for more in-depth industry surveys. Both services provide a user-friendly survey creation experience, so you can easily create relevant surveys for your audience.

8. ManageFlitter

This site is great for improving follower count, optimizing tweet timing and gauging the effectiveness of Twitter campaigns. You can also find and block fake followers to clean up your account. Speaking of fake followers, interested in a quick search to see on how many fake Twitter followers you have, or another account has? Check out the site.

9. Buffer

I do the bulk of my reading of articles in the morning and often find several articles I’d like to share but prefer to pace out my tweets throughout the day. When you sign up for this free service, a “Buffer” button will appear next to the “Tweet” button each time you share a post. When you choose to buffer the post, it will automatically shorten long urls for you, which you can tweet right away or add to your cue so the tweets are posted in the timeframe you set up (e.g. every two hours or every Wednesday).

You can also browse their site for recommended posts based on interesting content which has already proven to be popular. In addition to Twitter, Buffer lets you schedule posts on other popular social networks so you can load your posts and work on other tasks.

10. Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

Want to create relationships with reporters and position your company as a thought leader in your industry? This free service connects you with reporters who are looking for an expert to quote for a wide range of topics. There are various email lists you can join (e.g. High Tech) to get a constant stream of reporter requests.

There is also a gift bag request email distribution where local or national organizations request items to include in their event bags – an easy way to reach your target audience without traveling.

With these tools, you can easily create a more productive PR and marketing environment by implementing them into your workflow. Whether you need to create a quick infographic or you’re looking for ways to help with you’re everyday research and planning, you can incorporate these options without breaking the budget.

I’m sure as soon as I post this, I’m going to think of three more I should have added. Please feel free to post your favorite tools in the comments!