Speaking to the media is important. If you are a spokesperson for your company, regularly speaking to journalists can help raise your profile and awareness for your brand or product. It can also help manage your reputation. Yet many people avoid talking to reporters. Much like public speaking, it can be a daunting task. However, with a few speaking tips and a little practice, you can effectively answer any media question – even a controversial one.
One of the key things to master as a spokesperson is staying on message. What happens if a journalist asks you a question that isn’t related to the topic of the interview? If your subject is t-shirts and the journalist asks you about shorts, do you have the skills to take control of the interview and get it back on track?
One of the most important skills you can learn when speaking to media is called Bridging.
What is Bridging?
The bridging technique is one of the cornerstones of media training. It allows the interviewee to move the conversation from an off-topic or negative question posed by the interviewer back onto their own agenda.
Once you know what bridging is, you’ll start to notice it all the time in interviews, especially if it’s done badly!
The key to successful bridging is to learn and practice a few key phrases and learn the ABC(D) method.
Examples of Bridging
The following phrases are examples of the types of things you can say to signal to a reporter that you’re going to change the topic:
- What’s more important to know is…
- Actually, that relates to the bigger issue.
- Another thing to remember is…
- That’s an interesting point, but what’s really important is…
- I can’t speak on his/her behalf, but what I can tell you is…
While it takes practice, having a few key phrases in your back pocket can make this technique easy to use in real situations.
The ABC(D) Method
When learning the art of bridging, the ABC(D) method can be useful:
- A: Acknowledge the question. This is arguably the most important part of this technique. It shows the journalist that you understand the question and you will answer it to the extent that you are capable.
- B: Bridge. Use one of the phrases above (or something similar) to signal you will change the scope of your answer.
- C: Control or Contribute. This is the part of your answer that follows the bridge. It usually focuses on your key message or the topic that you most want to communicate.
- D: Dangle. This is an advanced technique in bridging where you mention a very salient new subject in the answer. The goal is that the journalist will recognise the salience and ask a follow up question enabling you to say more.
Still afraid to talk to the media? Our team has decades of experience working as journalists, presenters and media trainers. If you need help, get in touch.