All posts by Kate Vogelsang

Free stuff for comms professionals

CommsCampNorth is all about sharing – ideas, challenges, solutions. And cake, of course.

I ran a session at the end of the day of our Bradford event on 13 October, to put together a list of the freebie apps and tools comms professionals use in their working lives. I promised to share this list, so here it is, with a few extras thrown in for good measure. Thanks to everyone who came to the session and contributed – team effort!

If you have more you want to add in the comments below, feel free.

‘Free’. Get it? 😉

Some of these apps listed below only have a free version if you’re a charity, or have a version that is cheap, and is recommended even if you do have to pay. If you need something done for a one-off project or event, it’s also a good idea to make the most of free trials offered for products and apps.

Two people at CommsCamp in front of a timetable/grid with session titles displayed on coloured post it notes
CommsCampNorth is free – thanks to our wonderful sponsors


RemoveBG: Remove the background from any photo –

Remember what David Banks our resident media law expert said at another session at #CommsCampNorth; only use images you have a licence for. There are lots of image sites out there, here are just a few I like:

Failing that, take your own photographs, and try and do a stock photography day at least once a year. Portrait mode on an iPhone may not be as good as a professional photograph, but it’s usually better than using the same old stock shots that come up time and time again.



Social media

For scheduling tools Hootsuite and Buffer were mentioned, or use the schedule tool in Twitter (quicker and free, but without the more advanced analytics)

‘Design’ (sorry to all the graphic designers out there!)

Getting stuff done

Advice, support and training

Everything else

The Hemingway app helps make your writing clearer … more plain English, less use of the passive voice –

Scribe records your screen activity and turns it into step-by-step guides –

There are a whole bunch of people on TikTok who provide help and support in much smaller chunks to consume than old-school YouTube videos – Danielle Canva Video ideas, Sam Despo, Kevin Stratvert are just three.

And my favourite tip … our comms community!

Don’t forget that #CommsCamp and #CommsCampNorth are FREE and always have been, but if you can’t wait until the next one for advice and support, go to the Public Sector Comms Headspace group on Facebook and use the search function to find answers to all sorts of questions, or post your own. You’ll often find that someone else out there has already done the work that you need to, saving you time, which is of course precious.

5 things to remember for CommsCamp North in Bradford

CommsCamp in real life has been a LONG time coming … we’re really looking forward to seeing you all again and just being in a good space with great people. If you’ve got a ticket for CommsCamp, there are a few reminders before you come along. If you can no longer make it, please let us know as we have a waitlist of people still wanting to come.

So if you are coming, here are five things to remember before we see you on October 13th (or the 12th, if you’re coming to our beer and curry social):

There will be cake … so please bring cash

There’s going to be cake, but there’s only going to be cake if you bring some. But you don’t have to bake – although if you do, you could win prizes – you can just bring a cake you bought from a shop (although don’t try and pass it off as your own … WE WILL KNOW). Pieces of cakes are then ‘sold’ for donations to our charity this year, and you also get a raffle ticket to win marvellous prizes* so please bring cash with you. We don’t have a fancy card machine! Read more on Kate Bentham’s cake blog.

Bradford's centenary square

Bring food bank donations

Our charity this year is the Bradford Central food bank. We will have a donations table at CommscampNorth and will welcome all contributions of non-perishable food and household products, whether large or small. Popular items include tinned puddings, UHT milk, jam, tinned tomatoes, pulses, tea, coffee, loo paper and more. Read more on Josephine Graham’s blog post.

Have a think about pitch ideas

The beauty of an unconference is there is no agenda – you get to decide on the day what you want to cover. And this means you pitch the ideas you want for sessions. Pitching is easy, so don’t be daunted by it … and it always brings up some brilliant session topics.

What makes a session topic? This could be a problem you’d like to collaborate on, something they did well or an issue coming down the line. Have a look at our Facebook group to pitch an idea and join the debate.

Once we have a nice big list of session ideas we’ll share them into timeslots across the day in the six break-out areas. Each session lasts 45-minutes. Overall, there will be more than 30 slots.

So have a think in advance of something (or things) you’d like to pitch.

Sort out your transport   

Don’t forget your train ticket .. and if you’re driving, you should know that Bradford is a clean air zone, so you’ll need to pay to come into the city. If you’re coming to CommsCampNorth by train, we’ll have a walking train from the station so you don’t get lost … it leaves at 9.10am. Read more about transport, parking and travel on Bridget Aherne’s blog post.     

The social the night before is a BYO restaurant 

Finally, if you’re coming to our social curry the night before, please note that – like many restaurants in Bradford – it doesn’t have a drinks licence, so it’s a BYO. There is a supermarket very near, so you can stock up there. Read more on David Grindlay’s curry blog.

*Brilliant stuff we’ve found in charity shops or on eBay