Press Talking Points and Tips

So you have an interview coming up with a local TV or radio station or a short speaking engagement at an event or conference. Excellent! This is a great way for your library to get important early literacy messages to a lot of people in a short time. The reality is though, that you will likely only have a few short minutes to communicate a lot of information. To help you successfully meet this time challenge; we’ve compiled these talking points – everything the world needs to know about ECRR & Early Literacy in compelling and short points.

Please note that if you are contacted by any national press organization, (such as NPR, the Huffington Post, The New York Times, etc.) regarding your ECRR programming, we ask that you contact us (ecrr@ala.org) immediately so that we can provide you with important information and also coordinate the interview via the ALA Press Office.

First, a few tips on preparing for your interview

Have talking points (see below for ECRR talking points). You should always go into an interview with at least three key messages or talking points that you want to make. Focus on making those points, no matter what questions are asked. Guide the interview.

Bridge to your key messages or talking points. If a question seems off topic, bring it back around to what you want to say. For example, you might bridge by saying “That is an interesting question. I think the issue at hand is…”

Be concise. Give answers that are brief, and always answer in complete sentences. This way the reporter will not have to edit your statement and you are less likely to be misquoted or taken out of context.

Limit industry jargon. Use terms familiar to the general public to ensure your message is clearly communicated.

Let us know if you plan to mention Every Child Ready to Read! Email us at ecrr@ala.org. We can answer questions or provide you with information you may need to prepare for your interview. Again, if you are contacted by any national press organization regarding your ECRR programming, it is important that you contact us ALSC/PLA immediately so that we can coordinate via the ALA Press Office.

Talking Points – Every Child Ready To Read

Your Mission–State your library’s mission regarding early childhood literacy and detail your library’s early literacy programs (1 or 2 at most). Emphasize that “the library has research-based early literacy workshops and supporting materials to help parents and caregivers get children ready to read.” Mention that the library’s early literacy programs are derived from the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read program, a research-based series of practices that can help young children develop essential literacy skills that will help them get ready to read and on the right path to school readiness and student success.

Key Message to Return to Throughout Interview — Emphasize where possible that “Learning to read begins at birth.” and “Parents and caregivers are a child’s first and best teacher.”

Educate listeners/viewers–Emphasize the five practices, talking, singing, reading, writing, playing — as well as the importance of parental involvement. Remind listeners that parents and caregivers are a child’s first and best teachers. Let listeners know that program also is available in Spanish (if this applies to your library). Using the five simple but effective practices, parents and caregivers can help children develop early literacy skills, that will get them ready to read. Go over the five practices:

1. Talking: Talking with children helps them learn oral language, one of the most critical early literacy skills. Children learn about language by listening to parents talk and joining in the conversation.
2. Singing: Singing develops language skills. Slows down language so children can hear the different sounds in words. Helps children learn new words and information.
3. Reading: Reading together develops vocabulary and comprehension, nurtures a love for reading, and motivates children to want to learn to read.
4. Writing: Children become aware that printed letters stand for spoken words as they see print used in their daily lives.
5. Playing: Play is one of the best ways for children to learn language and literacy skills. They learn about language through playing as the activities help them put thoughts into words and talk about what they are doing.

Personal Story — Emphasize that the library’s early literacy programming is based on the ECRR research and the five practices. What is the end result of your program (that is, why should the audience care?) Add a personal story of someone (or some family) who has benefited from your programs. In addition to attending your library’s programming, make it clear what listeners can do to support early childhood literacy – i.e., the five practices: Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, Playing.

Further Information – Library Plug– Clearly give your organization’s contact information. Provide address, phone number, and website url and repeat where possible.