JANUARY 21, 2003
A retreat of the Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board was scheduled to be held at 8:00 a.m. at the District Support Services Center in Tempe, Arizona, pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.02, notice having been duly given.
Nancy Stein, President
Ed Contreras, Secretary
Donald R. Campbell, Member
Gene Eastin, Member
Linda B. Rosenthal, Member
Fred Gaskin, Chancellor
Steve Helfgot, Vice Chancellor
Rick DeGraw, Marketing & Public Relations
Chris Chesrown, Media Relations
Gloria Smith, Governing Board Assistant
CALL TO ORDER
The retreat was called to order at 8:00 a.m. by Dr. Fred Gaskin.
The purpose of the retreat was to provide media training for Governing Board Members.
Introductory Remarks by Rick DeGraw, Public Relations Manager: Mr. DeGraw introduced the training facilitator, Kathy Kerchner of InterSpeak. Prior to turning the training session over to Ms. Kerchner, he recapped the results of the survey work conducted by O'Neill and Associates pertaining to the public's perception of the Maricopa Country Community College District. He stated that the survey had concluded that the Maricopa Community Colleges are considered to be affordable, accessible, and open to everyone. The colleges train people for jobs, and students continue to be safe and secure on our campuses.
In upcoming Community Listening Sessions, it was cautioned that the Governing Board Members should remember that these sessions are exactly that. Board members need to listen to what the public has to say about the Maricopa Community Colleges. In the event the media approaches members of the Board, they must be prepared to respond to the press and the public.
Media Training Session:
Ms. Kerchner spoke about her background as a television reporter and spoke about the tactics news reporters use to get people to talk. She also spoke about how they take innocent, casual remarks and sensationalize them because that is what draws people's interest and attention. Board members were polled on their experience with the media and their comfort levels.
- Gene Eastin: Some experience. Would like to learn to tame his responses.
- Nancy Stein: Has worked as a journalist in the past.
- Don Campbell: Two brothers own newspapers.
- Ed Contreras: In planning this year's meetings and in particular the Community
- Listening Sessions, he foresaw that Board Members might be approached by the media. He felt it was important to know how to respond and not sabotage the efforts.
- Fred Gaskin: During his twenty-two years of working in the community college systems, he has worked with the media on many occasions, particularly when he worked as Vice President of External Affairs. There is a need to be open, honest, and responsive.
- Linda Rosenthal: Has had interesting experiences recently with the media and they have not been positive. Need to learn how to answer briefly and honestly without getting into trouble.
Ms. Kerchner spoke further on the purpose of these listening sessions. She stated that human beings have been given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening is very important and yet it is hard to do. People like people who really listen. She cautioned that it will be important for board members not to respond reactively to comments people will make.
Ms. Kerchner further described that demeanor and actions will also be very important. There should be appropriate eye contact, gestures, posture, facial expressions, clothing and grooming. It is important to look at speakers and take notes. Responses should begin with "What I hear you saying is . . . ." Listen and possibly refer to college president for responses. Do not match the pitch of complainant's voice. Respect should be shown to everyone even if comments are being repeated.
In responding, it was advised to always say something even if nothing specific is being stated. Examples given:
- "These are listening sessions and we have open minds. We will certainly look at your concerns."
- It would not be fair for me to comment on this at this point because we don't have the details yet."
Board members should strive to convey that they want to hear what the community expects and repeat things that were heard. Messages should be limited to 3-4 key messages. Also, board members should "bridge" between what they heard and what they want to focus on. They should acknowledge the question or comment and then bridge onto the focus of intentions. They should not focus on the negative question but rather tell them what they are doing. Another way to respond is to pause, silently speak the reaction to self, and then verbally respond with the transition.
With respect to questions pertaining to the Bond, a good response would state, "The decision has not been made yet if we will move forward with a bond. As Governing Board Members, it is our responsibility to try and meet the needs of our communities and these listening sessions are part of the preparation to determine if we will go forward with a Bond.
Board members went through mock interviews and viewed the video afterwards.
The retreat adjourned at 11:45 a.m.
Governing Board Secretary