Alan Kelly is a career public relations entrepreneur who’s taken a different approach to framing PR strategy. The system he’s created, called The Playmaker’s Standard, categorizes the common market “plays” that companies make into 25 types. They’re “the most basic tools and the building blocks of the discipline of playmaking,” says the company’s website. For example, the “Bear Hug” strategy is “the conspicuously public support or embrace of an opponent’s position or message,” perhaps with the objective of smothering the competitor. The “Preempt” strategy is a sudden reversal of competitive position, usually intended to surprise and disable the competition.
Kelly has both watched and orchestrated these plays throughout his 25-year career in public relations. As a strategist for Oracle in the late 1990s, he helped that company create an anti–PC message in a bid to position itself as a leading rival to Microsoft. The strategy successfully attracted huge attention.
In 2006, Kelly founded The Playmaker’s Standard, a Washington D.C.-based management consulting and software services firm that helps businesses understand and implement playmaking strategies. The company developed The Playmaker’s Table, a grid similar to the periodic table of the elements that provides a graphical representation of a business’s strategic options and advice on how to counter competitive moves. A clip of one of some of the 25 strategies the firm has identified is at right. Kelly also authored The Elements of Influence, a book that describes the Playmaker’s Standard.
In this interview, Alan Kelly describes the thinking behind The Playmaker’s Standard and offers examples of how it is used in the worlds of business and politics every day. He notes that the strategies are just as applicable to collaborating and managing reputations as they are to competing for market share.
Be sure to check out his Plays of the Day, which analyze current events in the context of the Playmaker’s framework. It’s at www.plays2run.com and on Twitter @playmakeralan.