The modern communicator is asked to turn their hand to lots of techniques, and if you want to be prepared for all sorts – here’s my guide to the 13 things you need with you at all times in your communications kit.
To save that TLDR feeling, I just drew them to save you reading this post, comms people are busy sorts after all.
With one ‘notable’ exception, none of these are sponsored links, they’re all good value examples the same or similar to what I use.
I like to use the cheapest thing that works – and since I work lots with the public sector and charities – it feels good to recommend things that won’t break the budget. Apart from the smartphone, which I consider to be basic issue, and so isn’t costed here.
Of course, you more specialist pros, or people with physical impairments or certain health conditions, might require better quality, higher spec gear, to suit your needs. Let me know if you have any recommendations. For now, here is is my list of ‘plenty good enough to do the job’ equipment for the comms generalist.
Communications kit bag essentials
Most current phones have a decent camera and lots of lovely app potential. They are a publishing tool, a film and editing studio, and apparently, some people even make audio calls on them.
Just make it an iPhone or an Android phone. Please don’t let yourself in for the strange hell that is a Windows phone. Beg to have something else. Never be Windows.
As a modern communications professional, you should already have a work smartphone – if not, use your own until you get one.
If you’re making podcasts or video, it’s more accessible and better for the listener if the sound is clear.
Get a lapel mic, that clips on to a person’s collar or necklace and can plug into the jack socket in your phone. Get the one with the longest wire you can afford, so it doesn’t yank out of the phone when your interviewee sneezes or steps back for any reason.
Or, if you’re flush, get a super duper mic like the one my podcasting partner in crime, Ben Proctor, uses, the H2N Zoom.
3. A lightweight tripod
Get that phone camera stable. My tip is this – go to Poundland and buy the little mini tripod they sell there. You can balance it on shelves and cars and other objects while you’re out and about.
But even better, you can unscrew the little legs and attach the phone holder to a proper, tall tripod.
You’re not Roger Deakins, it just needs to be stable and high. So don’t pay more than £60 unless you find one that comes with a free cinematographer.
4. Pencil case and notebook
Paper notebooks never run out of battery. Pencils take ages to run out of lead. Doodling and note taking will never go out of fashion.
You could buy my notebook, that comes with three rounds of Comms Faceapalm Bingo on the cover.
And there is nothing better that a lovely retractible pencil, I get mine from Morrisons.
5. Posts its
Use them during workshops. Stick them on a planner. Leave a note for a colleague. Clean your laptop keyboard. Use one as a coaster. There are a zillion ways you’ll find them useful.
The cost of these things blew my mind when I went freelance. Please, for the love of all that is good, buy them in Poundland or a bargain shop of some kind. They do not require a designer label.
There will be times when you want to show people videos on screen, or project a presentation from your laptop.
You never know what connections will be available. I have a MacBook so I always carry a lightening-to-HDMI converter and a lightening-to-VGA.
Technology should have moved on by now, we should be able to directly project from our phones. But that’s a debate for the pub.
7. Portable battery charger
So handy. Everyone will try to be your friend at conferences, don’t let the attention go to your head – it’s this they’re after.
8. Usb charging lead
Just have one for your comms kit bag that stays there, so you can leave your usual charger wherever it normally is without fearing you’ll forget it.
- About a tenner from any tech shop, supermarket or petrol station.
9. USB stick
Have any work, slides and info you might want to use on a USB dongle thing, in case you can’t get on to the wifi to access it online wherever you are.
10. Business cards
I can barely believe it but no, technology hasn’t killed the business card. When you’re out an about doing cool comms things, people want to know you, and a business card saves you spelling out your email address and Twitter handle.
You can make them as snazzy a reminder of who you are, as you wish. On mine, I have a picture of me clutching an award I won, as I’m terribly modest.
Edit video your phone while you’re out without disturbing those around you. Remember that the ear buds wrap OVER your ear for a sturdy fit.
12. A Kit Kat.
A communications kit is not complete without a Kit Kat.
Whether you’re on your way back from a fascinating and brilliant piece of work, or you’ve had a crap day, this is the perfect celebration or compensation you can ever ask for.
Kit Kats are unique and special because the creamy stuff between each layer of wafer is made up of mashed up Kit Kats, and you can eat it pondering how that first Kit Kat was made. You may also consider a can of pre-mixed G&T.
13. A bag to put them in.
You may prefer a rucksack – but consider wheels. Mine has wheels for when my arthritis is doing it’s thing, and lugging everything on the shoulders is a killer. And it’s just the right size to fit under my seat on train journeys.
Mine was a present, and was pricier no doubt, but you can get a nice cheap one quite easily.
What have I missed?
I’d love to know what comms equipment you carry around that you couldn’t be without.
For help in using your communications kit to the best of your abilities – take a look at the communications training page for courses on making creative content, social media strategy and other comms skills.
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