In the annals of bizarre interviews, there must be few stranger than the latest Billy Bob Thornton piece on the CBC. Billy Bob is currently touring with his band, the Boxmasters, as the opening act for Willy Nelson. It’s a promotional gig for their new disk.
CBC interviewer Jian Gomeshi had Billy Bob and the band in the studio, and made the mistake of mentioning Billy Bob’s acting career in his opening comments. What followed was painful, bizarre, and sometimes comical.
It’s not until the 10 minute mark that Gomeshi mollifies Thornton, and they get on track to talk about the music.
So what was accomplished? Nothing, really. Nobody wrote about the Boxmasters music. The headlines were all about Billy Bob’s behaviour.
One of the first things you learn in public relations training is how to deflect a question. Billy Bob should have focused on getting the message about the band out. Two appropriate responses to Gomeshi’s context setting might have been to:
- ignore it altogether and focus on the music.
- acknowledge it with “Yes, I’ve had a very successful career in film, and now I’m really happy to be working on another of my passions, music. Let me tell you about…”
The next time you’re confronted with a question you don’t want to answer in an interview, remember Billy Bob’s example, and be prepared with a few deflective responses to get the interview back on track.