The bridging technique is a crucial part of media training and an essential tool to master to control an interview. It is the ability for the interviewee to steer the conversation from any question that takes them away from their goal during the interview. This could be a negative or unhelpful question, or simply a question that doesn’t enable the interviewee to share information that may be more valuable to the reporter.
It’s important to understand that journalists don’t always know what questions they need to ask to get the best story from you. So, by helping bring their attention to an interesting fact they can hone in on what might be a better story. And if they don’t, at least you know you gave it your best shot.
Once you know what the bridging technique is, you’ll be able to spot it done badly often. Politicians are often a great example of how not to do it.
The key to bridging successfully is to acknowledge the question, answer it matter of factly and then build a bridge to where you want to go. For example, “That’s interesting, BUT what’s most important to remember here is that…” or “Yes, I’ve heard that, BUT what we’re noticing at the moment is …”. Then reinstate your key message(s) or shift to a topic the journalist isn’t yet focused on and share your knowledge/insights.
But, don’t forget the most important aspect of the technique is to make sure you acknowledge or succinctly answer the question FIRST before you build a bridge to where you want to go.
Media training is more an art rather than a science and therefore different tactics work for different people, which is why it’s important to practice mock interviews before you enter a real one.
The benefit of media training with an experienced practicing journalist and PR expert is that real world scenarios you’ll likely encounter can be rehearsed and messages refined to ensure you’re prepared to maximise the potential of every interview secured.