Bridging is a vital skill everyone who is being interviewed by the media needs to know. It allows you to maintain control of the conversation and “answer” even the trickiest questions.
After the huge popularity of my Handy hints to help you control ANY media interview blog, with lots of comments from many of you about the use of bridging phrases in media interviews, I thought I would share them again with some real-life examples of how to deploy them.
Remember – taking time to practice using different bridging phrases to see which ones work for you will ensure you don’t sound robotic, insincere or that you are trying to dodge the question asked (even though, when done properly, bridging does exactly that – helps you dodge a tough question and say something you want to deliver).
That is why bridging is your media interview best friend, allowing you to keep control of any interview and “answer” even the trickiest of questions.
Here are some examples (all made up, of course) of how you can use bridging phrases when asked a tricky question:
[Question] “Is lockdown going to end on December 2?”
- [Answer] “The nation has pulled together and done a fantastic job going back into national lockdown which I know is challenging and causing untold difficulties for millions of people.
- [Bridge] But it’s really important to remember that [Message] this current lockdown is designed to get the second wave of COVID-19 back under control so we don’t overwhelm the NHS as we go into winter.
[Question] “Is Christmas going to be ruined for millions of families?”
- [Answer] “COVID-19 is still rife in this country with tens of thousands of people being infected every day and hundreds of deaths.
- [Bridge] But people quite rightly want to know, [Message] whether or not they will be able to be with their loved ones for Christmas. That is exactly why we have had this lockdown in order to bring those rates down as much as we can in the very real hope that we can then help families celebrate Christmas together.”
[Question] “Surely NICE has rejected this drug because of its cost? The NHS can’t afford it which means patients are missing out for the sake of profit.
- [Answer] “We are incredibly disappointed on behalf of patients that this much-needed medicine has been rejected for use on the NHS.
- [Bridge] Let’s not forget, [Message] there are currently no effective treatments for these patients and our clinical trials show it has the potential to prevent severe disability. This is a draft decision and, as always, we will continue working closely with NICE to do what we can to ensure the thousands of patients with this devastating condition get access to this innovative new treatment.”
[Question] “Is your change in pipeline focus basically telling patients you’re giving up trying to find effective new drugs for this condition?”
- [Answer] “The patients our medicines treat are our absolute priority.
- [Bridge] What’s really important to remember here is that [Message] we want to ensure those patients can live well with their condition which cannot be cured by any medicine. We are focused on developing state-of-the-art tools to complement our medicine which will help people take control of their health.”
And here’s a non-healthcare-related, real-life example taken from an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook in May 2016. He was trying to reassure investors that rumours of the firm’s demise have been greatly exaggerated and that Wall Street pulling back on Apple stock was over-the-top.
How hoThis is a brilliant example of blocking a negative question (I think that’s a huge overreaction), bridging (Look) to a positive key message (we just had an incredible quarter). He then bridges again (to put that in perspective) to deliver another key message (that’s 10 billion more than any other company makes). Then he ends with a positive key message – that all is great for the future. And then ends with a great soundbite. “We are going to give you things that you can’t live without that you just don’t know you need today.” Brilliant.
Here it is in full:
“Yeah, I think that is a huge overreaction. Look, we just had actually an incredible quarter by absolute standards — 50 billion plus in revenues and 10 billion in profits. To put that in perspective, the 10 billion is more than any other company makes so it was a pretty good quarter but not up to the Street’s expectations clearly.
“We’ve got great innovation in the pipeline for new iPhones that will incent you and other people that have iPhones today to upgrade to new iPhones.
“We are going to give you things that you can’t live without that you just don’t know you need today.”
If you need help working on your bridging technique or any other aspects of media interview training, the get in touch. Jo Willey Media provides media training to help spokespeople, academics and executives effectively communicate with the media, delivering key messages with confidence and clarity to make the most of every interview opportunity.