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In Marketing Conversation is King

December 10th, 2013 by John Mallen

A while ago we introduced a new service called The JMC Bigger Conversation. The profound nature of The Bigger Conversation is the intensive humanization of marketing.  I came across this idea just a few days ago in a new book called, “The Passion Conversation ” by a persuasive foursome from the word of mouth and identity firm, Brains On Fire.

The four authors write that “we’re not really in the marketing business . . . we’re in the people business.”  They suggest that chief marketing officers should recast themselves as “Chief Love Officers” who use conversation to “connect through shared passions.”

This gives rise to “passion conversations” where the focus is not on the product or the company but on how the customer feels and how it fits into the customer’s life.

“The Passion Conversation” is geared to consumer word of mouth traction and The Bigger Conversation is a B2B and institutional marketing model.  However, both share these key points:

  • People are crucial to commercial success
  • Connections are made through conversations
  • Effective conversation requires listening and dialogue
  • We need to create “conversation tools” not more ads and brochures

At JMC, we say our new product The Bigger Conversation is a strategic customer engagement methodology that clients use to turbo growth.

The concept is simple, effective and – I’ve come to see in recent days – quite profound.

It works this way.  Your customer-facing people strategically select people in the customer base and take steps to engage with them one-on-one.  This offers an opportunity to sell more – more of the same products to departments they have not been formerly associated with or other products in the company’s portfolio to newly identified people in the customer organization.

Humanizing is the key! And humanizing takes place via conversations about customer’s emotional response to one’s offering or organization.

Indeed this is the psychological heart of The Bigger Conversation. In structuring and coaching clients we take great pains to frame the “what” of the brand or offering.  We are diligent in identifying “who” in the customer organization should be approached and we are strong in identifying which of the attributes and their benefits align with the customer’s needs.

We structure the process so that our client’s people systematically and strategically generate introductions to new clients in the customer base, and while building new associations, take steps to build and sustain relationships that will convert initially to new sales, and later on to repeat sales or unseen opportunities.

I want to salute the Brains on Fire authors Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church, and John Moore for their added emphasis on the relationship rooted in bonhomie that conditions people to be receptive to conversations that lead to consideration and in turn to increased sales.

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The Bigger Conversation

October 3rd, 2013 by John Mallen

What if what I love to do could fire up your success? What if that increasing success were to come from what you and your people, what all of us, do naturally?

“Great,” I hear you saying, “Tell me more.”

Thanks for asking!

Enter The Bigger Conversation.™  JMC’s The Bigger Conversation is a customer engagement methodology for business-to-business and institutional sales, such as non-profit organizations.  The Bigger Conversation is a 6-step process that builds on what you and your people do everyday - those in sales, technical support, customer relations, anyone who engages with your clientele - It builds on conversation.

The foundation of The Bigger Conversation equips and energizes your customer-facing people to dialogue with the consumer. Generally, they sell one product or one set of services to one person at the customer end.

However, most of the organizations I work with offer more than just one product. Often they have a rich mix of services and products and an even deeper vein of benefits.

Experience has shown me that in business we can always do more. You can engage your contacts in a Bigger Conversation.  One element of The Bigger Conversation encourages you to invite your customers to make great introductions, connecting people in your organization with people in their organization.

This is the mission of The Bigger Conversation.  This is what we have developed and what we are introducing now. This is what I am excited about!

In fact, we just posted a newsletter talking about The Bigger Conversation.  If you would like a copy, please let me know via email or phone.

My perspective?  Despite what others believe, content is not king. Conversation is king, and it’s something I’ll be talking more about in the future.  To have a conversation call us 212 734-4165 or email me at

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Thinking About Public Relations Strategy

October 5th, 2012 by John Mallen

Global Thoughts for Local Results

At the fall meeting of the Public Relations Global Network in Germany last week, nearly 40 of us were discussing the latest trends in marketing. We’ve covered and incredibly rich range of approaches that clients use to get success.

When I say incredibly rich, I mean it. From traditional elements such as publicity, events and exhibits and direct mail and cold calling to new and innovative uses of digital sources SEO, social media, user generated sites, giving stuff away and more.

There is one powerful notion baked into each of the  talks. That common element is strategy, a well-thought out approach to reaching the goal based on a foundation of information and facts.

Listening to the presentations, I find myself fired up to try some of the most appealing new techniques technology makes possible. I want to call the team back in New York and get something going.

But with each presentation, no matter how tempting the approach,  there is a leavening.  Each of the cases being presented explores, “What is actually going on here?” What is the competition doing? Is it working?

Not so shiny and new, but enduring and productive. It  is the task of setting forth how you move from the current situation toward your goal.

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August 18th, 2011 by John Mallen


Symposium will spotlight the Lower Hudson Valley as an ideal geography and demographic capable of supporting significant domestic and international technology development clusters, innovation and entrepreneurship

The symposium will be anchored by keynote speaker

Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Deputy Chancellor of SUNY, followed by a distinguished panel of academics, investors and technology experts

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Les Neumann

(845) 943-5660

NEWBURGH, Aug. 16, 2011 – The Hudson Valley Center for Innovation will host a symposium on “The Role of Higher Education in Technology-based Economic Development,” featuring keynote speaker SUNY Deputy Chancellor for the Education Pipeline Johanna Duncan-Poitier on Sept. 21.

The symposium will discuss how to leverage the combined regional assets to create a unified platform for innovation and technology-based economic development, retain the youngest and brightest individuals, and attract sustainable global high-tech enterprises to regional innovation clusters that will lead to 21st Century job creation.

The symposium will take place in the Great Room at the newly opened Newburgh campus of Orange County Community College starting at 8 a.m. Opening remarks will be made by the host, Dr. William Richards, President of Orange County Community College, and Les Neumann, Managing Director of the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation.

With over 25 years of experience providing results-driven leadership, Duncan-Poitier serves as the Chancellor’s Deputy for the Education Pipeline and Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges for the State University of New York (SUNY), the largest public higher education system in the United States.

A panel discussion featuring prominent members of the academic, investor and technology communities will follow the keynote address. The panel discussion will be moderated by the Chairman of the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation and Chairman of the Orange County Community College Board of Trustees, Dr. Arthur Anthonisen.

The Lower Hudson Valley region of New York is geographically, demographically and academically situated to become one of the United States’ premier technology communities.

“Through the development of a Regional Innovation Ecosystem, the Hudson Valley must link its academic, corporate, innovation, manufacturing, not for profits, government and economic development authorities into a unified and cohesive architecture,” event organizers said. “This public/private consortium will be capable of generating the vision to capitalize and promote the strengths of the populous and internal regional resources to retain our youth and existing businesses while attracting new domestic and international cluster-based initiatives creating jobs and economic sustainability.”

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Debut of COMPAS Workshop

May 10th, 2011 by John Mallen

I am looking forward to the next Monday. It’s our May 16 debut trial of our COMPAS workshop - a way of giving entrepreneurs a practical approach to marketing strategies that will move their enterprise toward success. The trial takes place near our office in Kingston, N.Y. If you can participate, I urge you to apply. If you cannot, consider another date: we will be rolling out our calendar soon.

For decades me and my colleagues have helped many clients realize remarkable success using PR, promotion, advertising and other communications tools. Like thousands of others in PR and marketing communications agencies did this with sound goal definition, well-aimed affordable and executable strategies, and step-by-step execution.

For years I was frustrated seeing so many entrepreneurs with marketing program that are either stuck or waffling about spending good money and getting static, even declining results. These were often friends, definitely smart, energetic principals in start-ups, micro family businesses or even healthy small businesses.

They either could not afford a strategic agency and did the best they could on their own.  Many would rely on specialty tactics of favored suppliers year after year. What once worked was less and less effective as markets changed. Their vendors couldn’t help. Their loyal radio, TV, and newspaper sales reps, well, were stuck selling time and space.

Enough is Enough

I realized that the techniques that work for the big outfits can be put to work for small, micro businesses, as well as not-for-profit groups who in this economy are challenged as never before.

It was my frustration that led to the creation of COMPAS, an acronym for Creative Opportunity Mapping Planning and Strategy.

The name (created by friend and colleague Gretchen Reed when she was on the JMC staff ) says a lot about the depth and power of this approach. The procedures have been improved and fine tuned by another friend and business partner in COMPAS, Marjorie McCord.

Remarkable Potential

The remarkable potential of COMPAS is, in fact, embedded in the name.

* Creative - there are few personality types with the energy, resilience and raw creativity as entrepreneurs! just get into a room of entrepreneurs, and you don’t need electricity. It’s in the air.  Frankly, the best creative group in the most prestigious blue chip ad agencies cannot compare to ideas emanating from business owners around the table, working a problem.

* Opportunity Mapping - Experience has shown me that businesses often have multiple “opportunities” they can tap into and spirit forward. Too often, leaders are consumed running their businesses, schedule killing real world demands. The process of going through internal developments, external conditions in the marketplace, changing trends affecting customers, and so forth is what marketers do. With a mix of cross-functional team brainstorming and critical thinking — brought to the party by fellow entrepreneurs, any one of us can generate a bucket of opportunities.

* Planning and Strategy -   If my business friends can fill a bucket of opportunities, and then sort and prioritize the TOP opportunities, I have no doubt that with the right planning they can realize the benefits of the opportunities in front of them, one after the other.  To accomplish this takes planning and strategy. What opportunities are the low-hanging fruit? Which of them deserve to the placed in the slow cooker, nurtured a while and then brought forth? Just getting our entrepreneurs to step away from multitasking and focus is a challenge.

Thus the workshop format. We will put you at a table with a mix of non-competitive fellow entrepreneurs, get each of you to pause, think, identify and then — in an atmosphere of supportive camaraderie fine tune the opportunities and the way you will go about realizing them. Our patience is short: we are looking to 3-4 month effects. Our scope is practical: your plans must be executable. You will end having identified the steps that you will commit to going forward.

To the degree that your workshop experience needs expertise from our world of marketing, advertising, PR, promotions — whether in print, video or digital — we’ll be on hand to provide experience and guidance.

The goal is to leave with at least one great opportunity you will and can pursue in the next 90-120 days to help drive your success.

Contact Us

You can find more information about COMPAS at our Web site. Also, please feel free to contact us with any questions. We are working with a growing team of collaborators. JMC and the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation (HVCFI) will be scheduling more workshops. And sponsorship includes DragonSearch Marketing and Ryan & Ryan Insurance Brokers.

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Holiday Reflections: My Best Thanksgiving Ever!

December 5th, 2010 by admin

Life brings surprises, sometimes the kind that enrich and ennoble. When our daughter Chase told us she wanted us to celebrate Thanksgiving in the Manhattan apartment with a few friends from other parts of the world, most classmates in the  Atlantic Acting School,  who would otherwise be alone, “fine idea!” I thought.

My goodwill paled when a few days before the big day, we learned we’d have 15 to 20 guests. The original turkey was only half enough, leading my wife Alex to find a second 10-pounder, ushering in for both of us a bit of angst over increasing the provisioning and having so many people packed into the East Side place.

When we learned our guests would also be contributing dishes and drink, we were somewhat relieved that we’d have limited late hour, last minute scaling up.  Thought we didn’t say much more to Chase, en route to the City my wife and I were muttering that we wished the scene would be smaller, quieter, more entre nous. Read that to be, “just the three of us.” 

As the evening unfolded, it was remarkable to be in a crowd of energized, genuine, motivated and generous people, where amidst the babble of conversation one detected a genuine respect for and patience to listen to one another. As we moved from main course to dessert, I heard Chase say, “Now it’s time for each of us to say what we’re thankful for.” With so many in the living room of the small Manhattan apartment, we were seated in a lopsided oval formation, as one after the other talked about their reasons for being thankful.

Each person seemed to dig into their own life situation, and with accents that stretched from Australia and New Zealand, stretching across the Americas over through Europe down to South Africa came their Thanksgiving stories: Tender, personal, fired with hope and optimism. None with any economic or political negativity.

There was joy in these moments of sharing. And there was the remarkable realization that the inspiration for the national holiday and the reason the 18 of us were gathered that afternoon were linked by our personal searches to strike out, set forth and strive to realize deeply felt aspirations.

For me, I realized I was experiencing the ideal of this experiment that is these  United States. I was amazed to hear from our assembled guests the buzz surrounding one’s winning the green card lottery.  Despite all the political bickering, this land is still so earnestly sought after by so many. 

When it came to my turn to speak, I was surprised to find myself choked up. “You -all of you here- are what all of us who call this place home are about,” I sputtered.

“You remind me to be so incredibly thankful for this promise of America, and to have this time to share.  And I’m so thankful to have a daughter with the generosity of spirit to schedule this, the best Thanksgiving dinner ever.”





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Celebrating the energy of Thanksgiving

November 25th, 2010 by admin

This coming few days, beginning with today’s high stress, most traveled day of the year, frames a remarkable component of the American psyche, the celebration of Thanksgiving. Regardless of one’s spirituality, political views or philosophical preference, it is a ritual time for extending gratitude to one another and to all that made life possible.  

We become other centered. We pause and reflect - really a big step for the non-stop go go culture.  In our loftier moments we become appreciative of the big and little, the grand and the ordinary.

This coming few days, beginning with today’s high stress, most traveled day of the year, frames a remarkable component of the American psyche, the celebration of Thanksgiving. Regardless of one’s spirituality, religion, or philosophical preference, the expression of gratitude to another or to all or to the divine beneficence of the Universe resets all attitude.

We become other centered. We pause and reflect - really a big step for the non-stop go go culture - and we pause commerce, neither asking anything or giving of something. In our loftier moments we become appreciative of the big and little, the grand and the ordinary.

What this does is release powerful energies that move the spirit of an entire people to extend goodness to others and to lift ourselves toward being our highest and best.

In that spirit, my thanks to all who make up the fabric of my life! 

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Time for Mr. and Mrs. Citizen to Toss their Hats into the Ring

September 18th, 2010 by admin

WhPrimary Victory Speech Nov 14, 2010ether you like or disdain The Tea Party movement or fall somewhere in the middle, there is one theme for which adherents are to be saluted: our culture of enabling Mr. and Mrs. Citizen to toss their hats in the ring, run for election and, surprise!, hold office.

In the tradition of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Gary Cooper in Meet John Doe, we see Christine O’Donnell defeating the Republican establishment on Sept 14 winning a position on the Delaware ballot for the U.S. Senate.  She has her messages, but overriding positions on economics and other specific policies, is her larger point that ordinary people can and should run for elected office.

Meet John Doe I was struck by the power and conviction in her victory speech Tuesday night.  “Don’t ever underestimate the power of ‘we the people.’  We the people will have our voices heard in Washington, D.C. again.” She added that her victory is really “about . . . more everyday Americans can step up to the plate, without worrying about cMr Smith Goes to Washintonharacter assassination, and run for office. 


“We need citizen politicians in Dover and in Washington, D.C. to get our state and our country back on track.”


Her victory crowed fell into, by accident I’m sure, chanting “Yes we can!” is a reminder that it was a community organizer in Chicago who became a citizen politician, moving to become the first black person to serve as President of the United States. 


Maybe the next best step is to have more citizen politicians mix it up, talk to one another, cook a new policy stew. And something done!












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What to say

June 4th, 2010 by John Mallen

Over the years as a PR practitioner I have been drawn into numerous situations ranging from emergencies to full-blown crises and many in between. Our role is to help people and organizations with damage control.

One of the major rules is that when it comes time to address the situation, the message should be clear, accurate, consistent and compassionate. You’d think this would be the standard operating procedure.

But it’s not. Crisis management is rich with awful examples of high-powered people saying the wrong things. It’s not easy, when a manager is in the thick of things trying to fix what went wrong or to explain how something happened. It’s especially challenging when an executive is used to being the top dog in speaking to his people — note, I did not say dialoguing with them — in their own paradigm and world view.

How else could you explain this from BP’s CEO Tony Hayward saying “the Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

Honest! I got this from a Newsweek piece that ran yesterday, quoting from The Guardian.

But sometimes you don’t need a crisis to address in order to find yourself in a mess. A LinkedIn forum for PR and Communications Professionals brings this ad up for review:

“What does it say about a company that posts a PR director job opening but in the ad tells unemployed people their applications are not welcome and will not be considered?”

Even those of us not in PR know that statement isn’t good PR. Clearly it’s an ad from a company completely lost without its PR leader. As Cyrus Afzali of Astoria Communications quips Andy Rooney fashion,

The funny thing is when people who ARE currently employed go in for interviews, all they want to know is why you’re leaving your current position.”

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Know-it-all syndrome

May 27th, 2010 by John Mallen

On a monthly session with members of Business Marketing Association of the Hudson Valley -  a group of individuals with lots of marketing talent - David E. Dirks is presenting his take on key factors about personal branding.

One point he makes I reeally like. He calls it a “know- it-all” syndrome. So very right, and something I’ve seen creeping into my own mindset of late.
It’s the easiest of conceptual traps one can fall in. Easy to fall in, I believe? because it identifies an internalize  brand positioning which is a notion about self that accumulates over the years.  With this comes a higly selective process by which certain new information is filtered by source or some other criteria that itself is set by the prejudices of our hardened brand and its world view.

Such a subtle self smugness is something that I have observed within myself in my own process of re-structuring my own future, personal and professional.

My experience is that parking the smugness is a powerful chalkenge if one is to move ahead with personal branding.

This self view, built over time and hardened in the kiln of life must be chipped away or dissolved somehow in order to develop a fresh brand that will work in support of one’s strategy for his or her next stage of life.

I wonder if deconstructing a hardened self-made brand image must be considered for big government or big business?  Is dissolving a know-it-all mindset crucial to effective rebranding anything?

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