British Treasury Minister Chloe Smith is one up on Sarah Palin; the Conservative MP fell off “a bridge to nowhere” on live TV in front of millions of viewers.
Enter Ms. Smith being interviewed by British TV news host Jeremy Paxman about the British government’s abrupt change of policy regarding raising fuel prices to help balance the budget. It appears to us at CommCore…and certainly must have to the audience…that Ms. Smith was completely unprepared to handle some rather obvious confrontational questions about the change in policy that she should have expected. The resulting interview, under Mr. Paxman’s relentless probing, is excruciating to watch. Even on this side of the pond, Jeremy Paxman is an interviewer not to be taken lightly.
Which brings us to bridging. Bridging is a media training technique that — when used properly — allows a speaker to clearly and
respectfully acknowledge a tough question and then “bridge” to an effective answer that he or she wants to make. There is a key to
successful bridging, however, that is inescapable…you can’t bridge if you have nowhere to bridge to. Most of Mr. Paxman’s questions
were predictable as was his drill-down style of questioning.
At CommCore, we tell our clients to:
1. Develop messages once you know the topic
2. Anticipate the questions
3. Know when and how to “give up a checker” when they you must
4. Then bridge to a relevant positive point
Ms. Smith had two options: 1. Work with her communications advisors to prepare for the combative line of questioning that Mr. Paxman is clearly known for, OR 2. Don’t go on at all.