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Tips for Speaking with the Media

Know Your Audience

Find out about the media outlet and what issues the reporters care about and how they represent them.


Plan What You'll Say

Plan What You'll Wear if Interviewed in Person


  • Practice by responding to the toughest and best questions you guess the reporter will ask.

During Your Interview with a Reporter

  • Be prepared and be yourself.
  • Keep your “crib sheet” of 2-3 points plus examples and policies nearby.
  • Be positive, honest, and straightforward -- think of the interview as a good conversation, not a debate.
  • Use personal stories to illustrate your points, and analogies when possible to clarify your points.
  • Speak and listen.
  • Use everyday language; don’t use jargon.
  • Admit when you don’t know the answer to a question; never say “No comment.”
  • Listen; empathize; pause to gather your thoughts; and don’t allow words to be put in your mouth. 

After an Interview with a Reporter

  • Before you hang up, ask the reporter when the story will run.
  • After you hang up, send a two-sentence note to NCTE about the interview; email or the NCTE staffer who set up the interview.

A Few Words about the Press and Reporters

  • They are not our enemies. They are a sister profession, whose work is anchored in the First Amendment. Many are professional writers and researchers.
  • Their job is to get a story out.
  • They are looking for an angle and some good quotes.
  • It’s their job to ask tough questions.
  • They have word limits.
  • They are coming to you because they know you are an expert and they want you to share your expertise.
  • They are bound by ethical standards.
  • They sometimes come to a story with false assumptions which they will give up when you give them proper evidence to the contrary.


A note about how NCTE works with you when a reporter requests an interview:

  • When NCTE receives a request from the press for an interview, we contact the spokesperson who seems best for the job -- usually by email.
  • Often reporters are on tight deadlines, so your timely response, even to say “No,” is important.
  • We’ll send you links to the positions and policies we send the reporter.
  • We’re available to you as a resource for background on the media outlet, the reporter, the stated angle of the story, and the NCTE positions.
  • Note: if you don’t agree with the topic of the interview or the NCTE policies, please don’t accept the interview.


Please contact Millie Davis or Lori Bianchini, NCTE Communications Division, for assistance with your questions about speaking with the media or with legislators:; 217-278-3634 (Millie) or 217-278-3644 (Lori).

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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts