A Social Media Strategy for Politics in Action: The Case of CPAC, the Cable Public Affairs Channel


  • Jennifer Thomlinson




CPAC, Cable Public Affairs Channel, C-SPAN, PBS, social media, community building, political engagement, public interest,


Social media is changing the way business is done, and television is no exception. This case study proposes a social media strategy for CPAC, the Cable Public Affairs Channel, as a means to transition from a one-way, television service to an all-encompassing source of political information and programming. CPAC is present in social media channels but they are under-resourced and underdeveloped. An element of trepidation exists amongst CPAC’s senior management with respect to social media, although there is an acknowledgement that CPAC must be in the space. Primary fears are that using social media will infringe upon the independent and editorial-free nature of its mission, as well as detract from intelligent and meaningful dialogue, making it a challenge for getting buy-in to do more. However, as broadcasters C-SPAN and PBS have demonstrated, social media can be leveraged in a way that does not threaten public interest media’s role but rather enhances it. Drawing on an extensive literature review, a focus group with CPAC’s senior management and interviews with comparator organizations C-SPAN and PBS, a strategy based on the findings is recommended for implementation.