Interviews with journalists can seem daunting. But with sufficient preparation and an understanding of how to use a variety of key interview techniques, a media interview can be a breeze.

Reporters might ask difficult, untargeted or premature questions during an interview. A journalist could seem confrontational or unprepared. And sometimes the conversation goes onto a tangent, which can distract the goal of the interview.

Despite distractions or nuances, a prepared spokesperson can navigate the conversation with finesse and bring the topic back to the original goal of the interview while also presenting their organization, product or service in a positive manner that lends credibility.

Here’s a look at some effective techniques.

Block-and-Bridge, Pivoting

The block-and-bridge, or pivoting, method can steer an interview toward a more favorable, and often mutually beneficial, topic of discussion. Spokespeople regularly use this technique to gain control over the direction of the interview and to ensure their message comes across as intended.

Successful blocking and bridging techniques start with acknowledging the question. A brief recognition of the question lets the reporter know they’ve been heard and the question they’re asking has been understood. This is then followed by an appropriate transition. Through this technique, a spokesperson can maintain a conversational rapport while regaining control over the interview.

Examples of the blocking and bridging method include:

  • “Thanks for bringing that up; however, it’s also important to emphasize…” then introduce the more favorable topic.
  • “That is not my area of expertise, but I can tell you…”
  • “It’s our policy not to discuss XYZ, but what I can tell you is…”
  • “That’s a great question. It also speaks to a larger point that…” then insert an overarching main point you want to make that directly ties to the company, mission or topic you are interviewing about.


Repetition is another interview technique one can use to reinforce key points or to emphasize important information. Repetition techniques include mirroring, paraphrasing and summarizing.

    • Mirroring: This communication technique involves imitation of body language and verbal communication that can build rapport, and that can also show understanding, empathy and engagement. For example, an interviewee could repeat the last few words of the interviewer’s question while nodding in agreement. This shows encouragement to the interviewer indicating that they can continue speaking or asking questions. It may even mean physical gestures or body language mimic or complement the interviewer. If the interviewer leans in, the interviewee also leans in a reciprocating manner.


  • Paraphrasing: This can buy a few extra seconds in the interview to help the interviewee better understand and regain their thoughts before responding. Restating the interviewer’s question(s) in your own words can help confirm understanding and show active listening. Examples:
    • “As I said before…”
    • “To reiterate…”
  • Summarizing: At various points during the interview, the interviewer may summarize what has been said to ensure both parties are on the same page. The interviewee only has a few short minutes to get the point across. Emphasize the strong points. Example:
    • “What I’ve said comes down to this…”

Understanding how to navigate various interview techniques, such as blocking and bridging, pivoting and repetition, can keep any interview or conversation focused.

Our Aker Ink team specializes in media relations and media training. And we’re available to prepare you for and guide you through tricky conversations. We’ll help you nail down key messages, navigate complex questions and become a sought-after spokesperson.

Want to learn more? Check out our full suite of PR services.