Playmaker Systems CEO Alan Kelly dies at age 64

Kelly was renowned for cultivating the practice of competitive influence.

Alan Kelly died April 13.

Alan Kelly, founder and CEO of strategy and analytics firm Playmaker Systems, died April 13 at the age of 64.  

Born on December 5, 1957, Kelly graduated with a degree in PR from The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. While at USC he served as the 1980 elected national chair of PRSSA. 

In January 1992, Kelly founded his first company, Applied Communications, a San Francisco-based tech comms agency. 

Applied Communications quickly became a powerhouse in the industry, ranked as one of the top ten independent tech PR agencies in the world. Some of the firm’s clients included HP, Cisco, PayPal, Oracle and Veritas. 

Applied Communications alumni Tim Marklein, Burghardt Tenderich, Shannon Mollner O'Neill and Christine Kerst co-wrote in an obituary that Kelly “ingrained ‘competitive communication’ in all of us, and we developed and practiced it religiously via every action, every news release, every media pitch, every analyst briefing and every client interaction.”

After he sold Applied Communications to Next Fifteen in 2003, Kelly wrote The Elements of Influence, a book that documented his system for classifying competitive influence plays. 

In 2006, Kelly created Playmaker Systems, helping clients analyze and anticipate marketplace moves through his influence system and other specialized techniques. 

Kelly is survived by his wife Kim; daughter Katie; and his son Leo. 

This week, PR pros have been remembering Kelly on social media.

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