5 Sites for Free Stock Images

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Working in the digital PR and marketing world, I’ve learned that finding stock photos is an art form. Sometimes you’ll have a perfect image in mind for a poster or social media graphic. Without a camera of your own (or a big budget to spend on stock photos), it can be challenging to find a free image that aligns with that vision. Bringing graphic design to fruition without the right resources can be both frustrating and time consuming.

Before I found these 5 sites, I used to spend hours designing a single graphic. Often times, the graphic wouldn’t even turn out the way I hoped. Or it ended up being available for limited use because of copyright issues. With the sites below, I’m able to drastically reduce the time I spend searching for desired images. I also know that I can use the images for commercial or personal use without running the risk of legal roadblocks.

If you’re a PR/marketing pro, take a look at these sites if you haven’t discovered them already! They offer free photos all in one convenient space. Some websites require attribution for their photos, while others don’t. It depends on the type of photographer that provided the image. I’ve personally used all of these for graphics I’ve designed and can attest to their usefulness.

Another provider that I use, not included on the list , is Canva. In my last blog post, I shared how Canva is a dream when it comes to doing easy graphic design. Canva also supplies an inventory of free stock images, as well as some inexpensive ones for sale. If I don’t get stock photos from a site like Pixabay or PicJumbo, I take them directly from Canva and they’re a huge help. What are your favorite stock photo sites? Share them with us!

Why Canva Is a PR Pro’s Best Friend

Canva, a free graphic design software, “empowers the world to design.”

If you work in public relations, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of Canva. The software company has grown in a huge way since it was founded in 2012. Boasting over six million followers and 38 million user images, Canva is a free graphic design provider that makes creating graphics a quick and easy process.

I first heard about the service last summer, when it was recommended (via many online articles) to social media managers for its ease of use. For those unfamiliar with the software, Canva offers multiple size templates for designers to pick from when they first log in. Simply create an account (for free!) and then visit your dashboard.

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Canva’s template options inside its dashboard.

Want to create an image specific for Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr? Canva has that. With social media becoming increasingly more image and video centric, Canva helps beginner and immediate level designers create something visually appealing without the headache of having to learn a new software.

Canva also offers templates for infographics, blog graphics, posters and more. Its designs will support most digital graphics you want to create. For me, Canva is terrific since I’m creating graphics for the web on a daily basis. Need a quick image for Twitter or your website? Canva can help.

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Some of the free stock photos that Canva provides to users.

As a disclaimer, the free version of Canva does have some limitations. Many of the stock images are available for $1 (still a good deal) and it provides a limited number of fonts. However, Canva offers a pro version (Canva for Work) for about $12 a month and lets you try it out free for 30 days. If you’re creating graphics on a regular basis, Canva is a powerful and time-saving resource.

What I like best about Canva is how accessible it makes graphic design. If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford Adobe Suite products, Canva is just as good of an alternative. If you won’t be designing elaborate content, than Canva will work well for the PR pro who happens to also double as a graphic designer.

Canva’s products look nice and clean, but are affordable. Still using Microsoft Clip Art or Paint? Now you don’t have to with Canva’s intuitive and low-cost platform. I can’t express enough how much it has helped me over the last year with my graphics. It’s great to have this kind of tool on the market for communicators and graphic designers.

What are your thoughts on the software? Share them in the comments!

5 New Social Networking Sites Worth Trying

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Aside from a few exceptions, social networking sites tend to come and go. We might have used Xanga, MySpace or LiveJournal back in the day. While many of these older social media sites are still accessible, their popularity has died out over the years.

For many people, it’s difficult to handle more than just a few social networking sites. We tend to forget to log into the smaller communities online. That’s why a lot of people can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They’re the most popular and they offer more interaction than some of the smaller sites.

Though the top three social networking sites have holding power, it’s occasionally worth trying new apps or sites to connect with others. New social networking sites appear each year.

Here we break down five lesser-known apps that may just become some of your social media mainstays.

1. Cymbal. If we’re the kind of people who always have one song or another stuck in our head, Cymbal may be the app for us. Cymbal allows users to post one song at a time as their status. Once a user posts enough Cymbals, they’ll get recommendations of other similar users to follow. Cymbal brings people together one song at a time. It’s also powered by Spotify and SoundCloud, so there’s a good chance that the songs we want are available to post.

2. Yerdle. Yerdle is a fast-growing app all about a sharing economy. The premise of the app is simple. Give away our unwanted items for credits. Use those credits towards getting other people’s items on the app. Yerdle is a great way to make sure that our old clothes, books, movies, etc go to a loving home. Yerdle also has an excellent pro community, where longtime users can talk about items they found or ideas they have.

3. Influenster. Like getting free things? Influenster might be the next social media site for you. In exchange for product reviews, Influenster gives out boxes of free items. Items can include things like nail polish, sun tan lotion, candy and more. To qualify, sign up and answer a few questionnaires. Influenster will get to know us and our interests. From there, they select certain people to receive their themed boxes. All we have to do is give honest reviews of the products, which in turns help the participating companies better understand their market.

4. Yammer. Intended for the work setting, Yammer helps employees connect online. Employees of a company can post anniversaries, chat online and welcome new members using Yammer. For twenty-something professionals, it helps have a social media site devoted to the office. We can satisfy our urge for connection through Yammer.

5. Letterboxd. Love films and writing reviews? Letterboxd is a social networking community that connects people based on what common films they’ve seen. The site helps users mark off what movies they’ve seen and what they want to see. We can also write reviews of what we enjoyed, pick our favorite films and interact with other users.


What are some less popular social media sites you use? We want to read about your recommendations in the comments!

2016: A Year of Change

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Happy 2016, readers! It’s hard to believe that I started this blog two years ago. I’m not as diligent about it as I’d like, but I’m happy I’ve written some articles giving advice to young professionals. I’ve also written some posts about my journey through academia.

My formal education ended last month when I graduated from UGA for a second time. Now that I’m done with my master’s in public relations, I’m excited to work in the industry full time. I have been working in a PR/communications role for close to five years now. I’ve always enjoyed both school and working. I’ve kept a full time schedule, but I’ve split it between internships, student editor positions, marketing jobs and taking classes. In short, I like staying busy and productive.

As sad as I am to be done with semesters, essays and class projects, I’m more excited to fully devote myself to my freelance PR and hopefully a full time PR job in Atlanta. I’ve always believed in having projects on the side that are independent from work. That’s what All Things Communications is. I’m available to offer PR help to small business owners who may not believe they can afford communications. Communications is vital to helping a business grow and it helps maintain relationships between businesses and customers. Even if they’re on shoestring budgets, small business owners should be able to get the PR help they deserve. That’s where my small firm comes into play.

I see PR as both a career and hobby. I want to practice it from 8 to 5 as well as in my free time. For me, PR has to do with building relationships, writing and editing and coming up with creative concepts. As 2016 begins, I want to devote myself to doing those things. I want this to be the year that I really get to help others when it comes to strengthening their businesses.

Special Holiday Offer

For small businesses, the holidays are a great time to boost your PR and marketing efforts. People may be last-minute gift shopping and haven’t yet heard about your product or service. For your small business PR, consider choosing All Things Communications!

All Things Communications has both hourly and project pricing options. Best of all, the fee is always low cost and can often be tailored to the business owner’s budget. Act before the end of the year and you can get 10 percent off any project you start with All Things Communications. Email allthingscomm@gmail.com to book now!

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5 Reasons To Use Digit

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This article originally appeared on GenTwenty as part of the GenSocial column.

On the Internet there’s been a lot of discussion about what twenty-somethings should do with their money. Some argue that it should be spent on travel and leisure for the purpose of enjoying youth. Others say twenty-somethings should begin saving immediately, especially since the retirement benefits are better if we start doing it in our 20s. Hello earlier retirement!

Regardless of where we stand on the retirement issue, many twenty-somethings might find value in a social app called Digit. Their tagline is “Save money, without thinking about it.” But how does that work? And is it really beneficial to sign up? The app is seriously as easy as it sounds.

Here we list the top five benefits of joining Digit and why saving doesn’t have to be so hard, even when it’s done on a micro scale.

  • It links directly to our checking accounts. Digit has a secure system that connects with the provided checking account. It then looks at our spending habits and removes a few dollars here and there. All we have to do is sign up and provide our information.
  • We can withdraw our money at any time. Digit takes away money and essentially puts it into a rainy day account. Whenever we want Digit to stop saving, we can remove the funds and use it for what we’d like.
  • It’s an absolutely free service. Honestly, we lose nothing by signing up for Digit. The automated app does the work for us. It helps if we have trouble saving and want to use the money towards something. There are more reasons to use it than to not use it.
  • It takes into account our incomes and spending habits. Using its specialized technology, Digit conservatively takes our money and saves it for us. That means they won’t take out too much from our checking accounts. Instead, it takes a little bit over time based on our previous decisions. Normally people have savings of $30 or so they find after a short period of time. The number increases depending on our income and spending habits.
  • Digit sends us regular updates about how much we saved. While Digit does its magic, we get regular texts from them about our saving progress. It’s an effortless and smart way to save money, especially if we tend to struggle with that.

What’s best about Digit is that it’s tailored to the individual. Most people want to have some kind of savings. It’s a part of life that we have to plan for the unknown. But sometimes we don’t make enough to save effectively or we can’t stop ourselves from making certain purchases. With Digit, we can have the help of an automated app that does it for us. It takes away money we won’t notice and puts it into an FDIC account. Best of all, we can access if we end up needing it sooner than we thought.

What money-savings app do you use? We want to know in the comments!

Interview with Amy Flurry of Recipe for Press

amyFor Amy Flurry, a local public relations and communications professional in Athens, her career has always been about storytelling.

A journalism graduate of the University of Georgia, Flurry wrote for regional and national magazines for almost 20 years before turning to PR.

Now working in communications, Flurry wears three different hats: Founder of Recipe for Press, Creative Director of Parlore and Co-founder of the Paper-Cut-Project. All three roles allow Flurry to tell stories and communicate using visuals.

Flurry said she made her transition from journalism to communications when the print industry was changing in the late 2000s. The jump was natural since Flurry had always done both editing and communications in her career.

“In 2009 and 2010, when the industry was turning upside down and everything was going digital, no one knew where that was going,” she said. “It seemed like the right time to change. I could not see my future in print anymore.”

It was during that time that she decided to author a book. She also opened a consultancy to share the knowledge she had gleaned in her 20 years as an editor.

“It was a big moment and a market decision to leave behind something I was comfortable with,” she said. “I was a features writer and interviewing top designers like Marc Jacobs and Vera Wang. At some point I thought, I’ve been so busy telling other stories. I need to figure out what my own story is.”

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Flurry began telling her own story by writing Recipe for Press, a guide to DIY PR for entrepreneurs. Flurry also opened a consultancy that evaluates brand strategies and helps prepare small businesses to pitch and to get press coverage, on their own. In addition she gives workshops and speaks on DIY PR across the country.

Flurry says she is able to help with these pitches since she was on the other end of the pitch email for years.

“I’ve been on the other side and in a position where I could share wildly with big audiences,” she said. “In my experience, I’ve found that a good publicist is an editor’s best friend.”

Flurry says that she enjoys the communications industry for the connection that it provides.

“I really like public relations and when people get clear communication, it can connect you with like-minded people and those curious about what you do,” she said. “When you communicate effectively, you open up your world a good bit. More than you can do on your own.”

Flurry genuinely enjoys her work and keeps a busy schedule to prove it.  In addition to Recipe for Press, Flurry heads the creative team of Parlore, an interior design app, and runs the Paper-Cut-Project, which transforms sheets of paper into dramatic silhouettes.

Along with having three different titles, she described many of the day-to-day tasks she does regularly.

“I write physical letters on a regular basis, I email and I Instagram. I am also probably part of more meetings than I’d like to be,” she said. “Then there’s Slack. It’s an app that tries to get you off of email. It maintains the stream of conversation in one place. For every project I do, I use Slack and that’s been great.”

Slack is just one of the many examples of how Flurry has embraced technology and social media and used them to better her communications practices.

“There’s so much more information out there,” she shared. “Now you can target pitches so specifically. You can look at where people write for and what they post on social media. You can get a sense of who they are as people. Technology helps in the DIY process so the publicist does homework before pitching.”

In terms of the strategies she uses, Flurry says she has her own “common sense” theory when it comes to pitching. When budgets were decreasing in newsrooms, she thought of what editors might need given the cuts of staff and money.

“My theory is that there were fewer people with more content to produce and less means to produce it,” she said. “If an editor’s in a bind, who am I going to go to? Who will pick up the phone? My approach was more giving people, from my perspective as a former editor, what I’m looking for.”

Flurry says some of her proudest moments in public relations have been when business owners take her tips and apply them to getting publicity. Her book Recipe for Press offers both tips and interviews with business owners about how people can create effective and targeted pitches.

“I really love when people who come to my workshops briefly get their own PR and see it work,” she said. “I love when what I taught makes sense and they see it work and share it. That’s pretty delightful.”

In the future, Flurry sees PR as moving away from hired agencies to more in-house communications. Business owners are becoming more savvy to the fact that they need to do active communications and PR internally.

“I see PR moving in house. Rather than having 20 clients you can focus on one,” she said. “A lot of people love that agency experience and the amounts of money going towards campaigns. What you learn in agency PR can be brought to corporate/in house PR.”

Using the tips from her Recipe for Press business, business owners can communicate smaller stories and pitch to local editors. One of the tools Flurry offers is the pitch wheel, which is an interactive calendar-based wheel that helps publicists determine when to pitch to regional and national publications.

Along with DIY publicity, Flurry recommends that small to mid sized businesses hire a communications director for their team.

“It’s not their sales position who does this on the side. It’s a position that you take seriously that will grow the business,” she said. “Many big companies have strong in-house communications. Now I see that filtering down to mid to small companies. Doing this does take time and it takes relationship building.”

For current students of PR, Flurry recommends pursuing this kind of in-house PR, as well as being gracious and hardworking in the field.

“I feel like working in communications is about relationships and follow through,” she said. “Also about being lovely, easy to work with and being prepared.”

She also stresses that communications is really about storytelling, and being able to share that story consistently over time.

Flurry gave the example of Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, who skillfully shares the story the hosiery company based in Atlanta.

Blakely is able is be herself, but at the same time share her story and share the right parts. In television and print interviews, Blakely consistently shares what Spanx is and what they hope to accomplish.

“This is part of what grows a company. You all share the same story,” Flurry said. “If you control your story and stay on message, your communications and your company will grow.”

She says that communications is a great industry to go into because of the current opportunities for students.

“Communication is power. I love when I see great people representing great companies,” she said. “PR contributes clarity and connection to society.”

To learn more about Flurry and her work, visit amyflurry.com, recipeforpress.com, paper-cut-project.com or http://www.parlore.com.

Images courtesy of recipeforpress.com and ohmyhandmade.com.