Bridge to Nowhere

When people are asked by news reporters about alleged scandals, some in my profession, much to my chagrin, counsel them to essentially ignore the question and mechanically “bridge” back to their key messages.

“My slush fund aside, keep in mind that our stock price is soaring, I donate to loveable charities and our widget is improving lives!”

It works every time.

Hyperbolic you say? Check out this clip, sent to me by Benidt, in which a beleaguered politician continually goes with the mother of all bridges.

– Loveland

4 thoughts on “Bridge to Nowhere

  1. Hornseth says:

    Oh, I won’t have that.

    Despite my friend Loveland’s chagrinedness, and the example on display here, I won’t throw bridging out with the bathwater.

    Simply ignoring questions and spouting messages isn’t bridging. Of course. It’s evasion and it’s bad counsel. Agreed.

    But effective bridging, used sparingly, is good. And it’s not about evading the question or being clumsily manipulative; it’s most often about challenging a question’s implicit premise — and only when there are valid reasons to do so.

    Question: “So, how late are you guys with this product introduction.”

    Answer A: “Eight months. I could explain a bit, but you’re the reporter and you’re in control so I’ll stop there. Report away. Next question?”

    Answer B: “Eight months. If you don’t mind, I’d like to explain a bit why it’s happened and what it means… –> [important thing to understand about why we’re not actually screwing up so badly as it might outwardly seem].”

    B is a bridge — a perfectly good, nice, civil, respectful and helpful one. It’s about making your point/stance/position clearer.

    And yes, it’s about helping to prompt a better story.

    And that’s just dandy. It’s an interview, not a deposition. A discussion. A two-way street. Any debate tactic used badly is bad. Thoughtful bridging (nothing like the video example) is fair game and a fine tactic.

  2. ghornseth says:

    Damn. It turns out Loveland’s longer take on this is remarkably like mine, had I bothered to read it. And I thought we had an argument going there.

    [BRIDGE] But this exchange has helped me to crystallize my own thinking on the matter, which, in the long run, cannot help but build shareholder value.

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