Winning Media Interviews, Part IV: The Fine Art of “Bridging”

Reporters are more experienced than you are in an interview.  They should be.  They do it for a living.  They know the questions that are likely to make you squirm.

For example, a reporter will often lead you into areas that you would rather not talk about for any number of reasons.  For example, a reporter asks for confidential company information you are not permitted to discuss.  Or, you are asked for details about your work for a client, which is off limits.  Or, you simply are not an expert on the topic.

“Bridging” is the process of returning to your key messages and away from the topics you do not want to discuss.  Or, the reporter may wander into subject areas that weren’t proposed as topics for the interview.  This isn’t necessarily something bad – s/he may have a particular interest in that subject.  It’s just that you don’t.  So how do you get the interview back on track?   You do it by “bridging.”

Example of Bridging

Question: “Tell me about the new online service you’re developing for Best Client.”

Answer: “Our client Jack O’Brien is the person to talk to about that and I can put you in touch with him.  But I’ve read with interest your stories about online services offered by money center banks.  Let me tell you about how we’ve come up with a solution for companies with a thorny problem they’re facing in cross-selling their customers on the Internet.”

You have responded to the question by pointing him to the appropriate spokesperson, and demonstrated that you know the topics the writer is covering.  Now you can return to a key message without alienating the reporter.

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  1. That’s great for people who can think quickly on their feet. For me, I always have to let it digest before I have an adequate response.

    Guess I should stay away from media interviews!