3 Ways C-SPAN Is Live-Streaming Better Than You

Live-streaming the House gun-control sit-in

New Epolitics.com contributor! Alex Dickinson is Director & Chief of Staff with Beekeeper Group. Follow her on Twitter at @alexmae, and be sure to check out last week’s big-picture analysis of the Congressional live-streaming.

Remember last week, before #Brexit, when congressional sit-ins were a thing? Cable TV had a social-media moment last Wednesday, and not because of anything happening in Westeros (for once). Instead, the action focused on the U.S. Capitol and the network that brings gavel-to-gavel coverage into our homes. After Speaker Ryan shut off the cameras that power coverage of proceedings on the House floor during a Democratic protest over gun control (read more about why), C-SPAN began broadcasting Periscope and Facebook Live streams straight from the House Floor.

While the reason for the switch is certainly worth reading about, organizations interested in exploring live-streaming can also learn plenty from C-SPAN’s actual use of the tools:

Nothing beats an authentic voice

C-SPAN knew that live footage from the floor, even shaky, blurred video from a mobile device, was going to be  more effective than still images or third-party tweets describing the activity in the House. While for them, it was just fulfilling their stated mission, other organizations seeking to create their own live-streaming moment should keep in mind the importance of capturing the right voice at the right time. As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg noted, the power of live is that it’s “unfiltered and real.”

Find ways to make it shareable

If you’re worried about the reach of your content for your event, consider finding ways to extend the moment beyond your live stream. Sharing simple screenshots, or excerpts of a longer clip (like below) can help you maximize your reach and can let you push content onto other platforms.

Have a “let’s go live” toolkit

While our friends at the SPAN have the advantage of many decades of live coverage, groups seeking to “go live” should take some steps to prepare with some hardware and some text. Next time your organization’s CEO gets ready to testify on the Hill or speak on a panel, try packing a portable charger, a phone tripod (a selfie-stick can do the trick in a pinch), and maybe even a backup device. On the less technical side, having a document with the correct spellings, pronunciations, key talking points, and other need-to-know items can go a long way towards making the experience feel unfiltered, but organized.

Sharing content live means letting go of a certain amount of control, but it doesn’t mean leaving caution to the wind. So while C-SPAN may have made live streaming the cool new thing to do, make sure that you take steps to Carpe Diem… with care.

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Alex Dickinson
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