Alan Kelly, Playmaker Systems Founder and Chief Executive

Alan Kelly, Playmaker Systems


Alan Kelly is a visionary strategist, author, professor, political analyst, and award-winning Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He is Founder and Chief Executive of Playmaker Systems, LLC, a strategy and simulations firm.  Based in the Washington D.C. area, the company’s services are based on a breakthrough decision system for communications, social media, marketing, sales and military intelligence professionals. Its clients include Abbott, AbbVie, Bayer, Dell, GSK, HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel, Pandora Media, Royal Dutch Shell, SAP, the U.S. Department of Defense, and VMware.

Kelly’s work is driven by a simple idea:  That influence – like chemistry, biology, language and even music – is underlain by a single system of irreducibly unique elements. In this regard, he envisions a modern lingua franca for managers of reputations, brands and other intangible assets, applicable across industries, governments and cultures.

Kelly’s development of a periodic table of influence in 2004 is testament to his vision for a comprehensive standard in the industries of influence – notably management, strategy, marketing, sales, advertising, public relations, public affairs, and information warfare. It is a system that names, describes and prescribes the work of influence strategists (i.e., playmakers) everywhere, catalogued in his landmark bookThe Elements of Influence: The New Essential System for Managing Competition, Reputation, Brand, and Buzz (Penguin Books 2006).  Kelly holds a U.S. patent for this work and has published numerous opinion-editorials and peer review papers, including the 2013 publication of Dancing with the Giant, a challenge to communications scholars and practitioners, published in the International Journal of Communication.

Since 2008, Kelly has been a regular contributor to Sirius XM satellite radio, P.O.T.U.S. 124, in the weekly segments Plays of the Week and Plays for the Presidency.  He is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and Politix.  From 2011 to 2014, Kelly served as an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Political Management at the The George Washington University, teaching a frontier graduate course entitled, Political Strategy and Simulation.  In 2008, at the USC Annenberg School of Communication, he helped pioneer virtual teaching by way of his first graduate course, Strategies of Influence.

In technology and marketing, Kelly is known for his founding and leadership of Applied Communications Group, a San Francisco-based public relations and research firm that earned distinction for its quantitative grounding and unique philosophy of competitive communications. From its formation in 1992 to the sale of its assets in 2003, the firm garnered numerous best-in-class recognitions for its work with Oracle, Hewlett–Packard, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, SeeBeyond, Genentech, VeriSign, PayPal, Veritas Software, BEA Systems, TechNet and Informatica, among others.

Kelly, 58, holds a Master’s Degree in Communication Research from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Southern California. He lives with his wife and two children in Maryland and enjoys racing his Etchells one-design sailboat, Playmaker.


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