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Polling to the People

18 May 2010

The Essential Report is fast becoming one of the nation’s most-quoted polls – after all it’s regular, it’s insightful and it’s free.

The fact that EMC has been able to produce and promote the poll highlights much that is good with the capacity of new media to create and share information.

So how do we get to give away so much polling every week?

Well it starts with relationships. Your Source are one of the companies who pioneered the development of online panels. They have built up a panel of more than 70,000 participants, who receive incentives (redeemable credits to shop at Myer) and work a weekly national omnibus, mainly for commercial clients.

We met them at a conference and they told what us they were doing. We hatched a plan to feed a few political questions into their omnibus every week and then give them away – to let the world know that both Essential and Your Source had a capacity to run quality online polling.

And the catch? There wasn’t one. This was one of those moments where two companies realise they can help each other by sharing their talents and resources.

So every Friday Essential’s Research team, including our Washington-based polling consultant Vic Fingerhut, hook up to discuss what issues we want to check in on. Sometimes they are benchmarks, like party approval, preferred leader, issues best at being managed,.

But we also try to chart the hot issues in the coming weeks, if there is a report or a specific policy in the wind, we’ll try to check in early. Like so much of what Essential does, this is not about creating beauty contests, but actually about understanding issues.

The poll goes into the Your Source omnibus each Tuesday and comes back the following Monday, when we analyse it and distribute it to a growing list of media who like the idea of using polling that noone has paid for. We distribute through Crikey, I usually drop into the Sky studios for Agenda and knock up a piece for The Punch.

Again, the secret is none of this is a sale – none makes money through the process. But I think we all come out richer – in partnership we are developing reliable online research techniques, we are on top of political trends and we are working with the mainstream media to better understand the world they report on.

Who said free things weren’t of value?

Peter Lewis, Director EMC