If less is more…

2 Oct

If less is more, then logically least is most of all. This takes us into the debates around Chris Anderson's latest book, Free.

Today we learn that the London Evening Standard is to be given away free, despite the closure of The London Paper.

It's easy to envisage there being a large market for free in the digital world (websites, music, software), but it remains harder to see the commercial case for free in the world of atoms (eg newspapers).

Somewhere in between free and expensive, we can anticipate the emergence of niche markets for 'less'. Here's Mark Simmons introducing his latest venture, USE LESS – a for-profit business in the US that's more about the message than the product (encouraging a more sustainable model of consumption). Simmons is the co-author of Punk Marketing; to make a full disclosure, he's also my brother in law.

Public relations literature barely touches on these concepts, even though a free model has long been built into the publicity and media relations models. Yet, in defending the excellence theory, Grunig and White wrote in 1992: 

‘In short, excellent organizations realize that they can get more of what they want by giving publics some of what they want.' 

The inherent compromises built into public relations (whichever model is practised) suggest PR should be flexible enough to cope with different business models – even free.

One Response to “If less is more…”

  1. David Phillips 18/10/2009 at 10:38 am #

    Chris Anderson is interesting as always and, of course, had to compromise in expressing what ‘Free’ meant because he took a 20th century marketers view of products, services, money, wealth etc.
    Free is a statement of values and values are not free.
    Values are the building blocks of relationships and so ‘free’ is about investment in relationships.
    Relationships are valuable and so ‘free’ does have value.
    In an exchange where relationships can be converted into money (in the sale and purchase of goods, for example) ‘Free’ works very well and has done for millennia.
    Relationships are a currency of many other exchanges. In Pakistan and Afghanistan we see this currency at work in a very different way and its all built on values.

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