Alan Kelly, Founder and Principal

Alan Kelly is a strategist, author, lecturer, political analyst, and award-winning Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He is Founder and Principal of Playmaker Systems, LLC, a Bethesda, MD-based strategy and analytics firm whose clients include Abbott, AbbVie, Bayer/Covestro, Booz Allen Hamilton, 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 and even music – can be decoded and managed by a single system of unique units. His introduction of a periodic table of influence 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, prescribes and predicts the work of influence strategists as catalogued in his landmark bookThe Elements of Influence: The New Essential System for Managing Competition, Reputation, Brand, and Buzz (Penguin Books 2006). He holds a U.S. patent for this work.

Kelly has published numerous papers including the 2020 publication of Decoding Crimea, a breakthrough analysis of the secret strategies of Vladimir Putin, the 2013 publication of Dancing with the Giant, a challenge to communication scholars and practitioners, and critiques of the public relations industry, including Edward Bernays Foresaw Our Fakery. That’s Why PR Throws Him Under the BusFake News: PR’s Little MonsterSaving Arthur Page: Telling the Truth About PR, and Trust Me, I’ve Got a Barometer.

From 2008 to 2017, Kelly was a featured analyst on Plays for the Presidency, a live weekly radio series on the non-partisan Sirius XM satellite channel, P.O.T.U.S. 124. He has contributed more than 60 articles to The Huffington Post, among them his provocative theory of encouragement of President Donald Trump. 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. Today, Kelly teaches Strategic Communication at the University of Maryland Department of Communication.

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, which earned distinction for its quantitative grounding and ground-breaking expertise in 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, 62, 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. While at USC he served as the 1980 elected national chair of PRSSA. He lives with his wife in Maryland and is an avid racer of his Etchells one-design sailboat, Playmaker.

Email Alan Kelly or follow him on Twitter @playmakeralan.