How politicians are trained to do interviews

We've all seen examples of it. When Hillary Clinton was asked about wiping her private email server, she famously responded, "Like with a cloth or something?" Politicians or their representatives regularly do interviews on television or at press conferences, but don't always answer the questions they're asked.

In September, Megyn Kelly of FOX News asked Kellyanne Conway about Donald Trump attacking women for their looks.

"This is an issue for him, is it not?" Kelly asked.

"Is that the campaign issue that Hillary Clinton is running on?" Conway replied.

There are terms for some of these techniques. That one is called bridging: using a word or a phrase in a question as a bridge back to the topic you'd like to be talking about.

In that instance, Conway took a question about something that was an issue for Trump and turned it around to talk about issues Clinton was or wasn't running on.

"We use bridging a lot," said Brian Jones, a partner at the Black Rock Group. He helps train politicos and corporate leaders on how to do media interviews. He has worked in communications for the John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Chris Christie presidential campaigns. He was also the former communications director of the Republican National Committee, a job once held by White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

"When you go on a program, you're an advocate, not an analyst," Jones said. "It's not your job to go on there and talk about how you feel personally. It's your job to make a point on behalf of whoever you're representing or maybe you're representing yourself as a candidate."

He said the interview is a two-way street, and there are a few key rules to live by in order to hammer home your message.

"You want to reverse-engineer success," Jones said. "Think about, on the front end of an interview, what are those points that I want to leave the viewers with?"

Another key point, he said, is never lie.

"Do not lie. Do not make things up," Jones said. "Sometimes in casual conversations, people might speculate. They might even say something they're not 100 percent sure of but they think they're sure of. Those are recipes for problems if you're going on TV and you're kind of winging it."

Jones said even little things like smiling and body language can make a difference.

"You have to make sure that you're being yourself," he said. "If you're a very animated person and all of the sudden you feel confined, you can't have it look like a hostage video. So you have to work within the confines of who you are."

It all this comes at a time when the dynamic between folks in the administration and the journalists covering them is certainly changing. The president and his advisers routinely refer to the press as the opposition party. But Jones said that might not be the best strategy.

"I don't know if viewing the media as the opposition is something that'll ultimately be beneficial in the long run. Again, this is a two way street," Jones said. "But again, we're in uncharted territory here -- with somebody who understands the media and has worked with the press in a way that few other presidents have."