B²: Clinton vs. Gowdy

Last Friday’s headlines told the same story – in the matchup at the Benghazi hearings, Republicans lost and Hillary won.

Though a possible indictment by the FBI will diminish cries of “victory,” the calm, cool, and collected Hillary Clinton who sat on the other side of Republican finger pointing for 11 hours did a whole lot to bolster her public image and her campaign. Add to her stellar performance Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (SC-04) concession that no new information was learned, and, well, Hillary Clinton had another good week.

True, there was a lot of pressure to prove the committee’s relevance leading up to the hearings. Thanks, in large part, to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) and his suggestion that one of the committee’s goals may have been to take down Clinton’s campaign for President of the United States. But the nail in the coffin was Gowdy’s interview at the end of the day. When asked if he learned anything new from Clinton’s testimony, he said:

“I’d have to go back and look at the transcript”


Gowdy probably could’ve said ANYTHING else and lessened the blow. But his admittance that 11 hours of testimony highlighted no new information about what happened in Benghazi validated every skeptic of the committee’s existence.

So, what should he have said? And what do you do when you’re asked to comment on a situation that didn’t go as planned?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is the media question Trey Gowdy was asked and the B² (block and bridge) that could’ve set the narrative straight:

Q: “What new information did you learn today?”

B²: “What we learned is that Hillary Clinton still isn’t giving us straight answers, but we were able to get an honest answer about <insert talking point>.”

Regardless of whatever talking point Gowdy inserted, a good answer would’ve looked like this: underline what didn’t go well (with the finger pointed at Hillary) and then transition to a new piece of information. If you find yourself in a similar situation, do the same. If something doesn’t go as planned, admit it. And if there is a specific, uncontrollable reason why it didn’t go as planned, admit that too. But never forget to B² (block and bridge) to the good and/or an important piece of information the public should know.

Every answer is an opportunity to sell your message. Don’t let a reporter’s questions dictate your narrative. If you do, you’ll lose every time!

B²: Minimum Wage

Now that Labor Day Weekend has passed, you face two very important tasks: 1) put away your summer whites and 2) return to work.

A return to work quickly focuses our minds on the topic of the minimum wage…especially with the majority of Americans in support of raising it. (Hart Research Associates reported in January 2015 that 75% of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $12.50.) With the polling data so heavily favoring one side, it’s no surprise that the minimum wage has become a topic of conversation, especially amongst Presidential candidates.

On a tour through New Hampshire, Governor John Kasich was asked to give his perspective. The Washington Post reported that he “rebuffed the idea of raising the federal minimum wage. He told reporters that any increase in the minimum wage should be done state by state, but that it should obviously increase.”

Not too surprisingly, Hillary Clinton is happy to give her position on an issue polling in her favor. In July she stated, “I think it’s going to be important that we set a national minimum, but then we get out of the way of cities and states that believe that they can and should go higher.”

Much has been (and will continue to be) said about the minimum wage, especially as the Presidential race heats up. But what will you say if you’re asked about the minimum wage and your answer is not to raise it? Do you know how to respond so those struggling to make ends meet are considered?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “How do you expect a single parent to support their family if they only make minimum wage? Isn’t it time to consider a living wage?”

: “The challenges a single parent faces are great, and I have no doubt it’s difficult to provide for a family when you’re only making minimum wage. There is, and should continue to be, a safety net for this reason. But we must look at the unintended consequences of raising the minimum wage <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, whether you focus on how raising the minimum wage will mean less job opportunities for those looking for work, how it is likely to push people out of the workforce, or talk about the burden on businesses, you have to meet the emotion of the question before you transition to your talking points. Otherwise, you’ll sound like you don’t care about people. And if you sound like you don’t care about people, the audience will assume you care only about money…and that’s never a winning argument.