OPINION: The Big Question - Should political monitoring be available for free?/Ludgate Public Affairs is threatening to end its membership of the APPC over the regulatory body’s decision not to list Ludgate’s non-fee paying clients on its



’Monitoring is like any other service - you get what you pay for. Some

clients will feel comfortable going onto the net and getting information

for free, others will only want to look at tailored monitoring with

analysis and advice. If free monitoring is just giving people cuttings,

they can do that themselves already on the internet. The key thing is

whether they have the time, knowledge and inclination to know how to use

that information. If your car battery goes flat and you have jump leads

you can probably start your car yourself, but if a valve breaks in the

middle of your engine, you’re probably not going to be qualified to fix



’Parliamentary monitoring is the essential prerequisite for both client

and consultant. It forms the basis of any effective political

communications programme. How to deliver better, faster and cheaper

monitoring services to clients via the internet is an issue and an

opportunity for agencies. Clients should be looking for a service which

is quick to access, delivers quality political analysis and which is

tailored, timely and relevant to their specific objectives. A generic

free e.monitoring service can only go so far toward meeting client

needs. If you want quality and added value monitoring you will need to

pay for it.’


Selling political monitoring is very last century. The world of lobbying

cannot escape the ’Rip Off Britain’ debate. Defenders of charging for

monitoring had better be clear about what real value they add to justify

the charges they make. It’s like we just introduced free current account

banking: sooner or later other consultancies will follow, even if now

they say they won’t. Thanks to the internet, the stuff behind political

monitoring is no longer the preserve of a few lobbyist-grandees in SW1.

By setting a benchmark on what people can get for free, we set a

threshold for our competitors to beat in the services across the



’In contrast with Westminster, the Scottish Parliament has led the

development of faster, more efficient monitoring through the provision

of web information. This has challenged monitoring specialists to be

more creative in designing added value services. I would question

whether free monitoring is really as ’free’ as its proponents claim. In

my experience, monitoring services that don’t match the breadth, depth

and volume of information to their client’s exact specification, end up

costing the client a significant part of their day as they check, manage

and add to the information. I want to see political monitoring developed

as a specialist information service just like press monitoring. Within

media monitoring, the market leaders are specialists in seeking out,

summarising and analysing information and they work closely with both

clients and consultants. That’s the way forward.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in