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Home » Alan Kelly, one of the PR industry’s “true iconoclasts,” dies at 64

Alan Kelly, Bethesda, Maryland, who died at the age of 64, was one of the public relations industry’s "true iconoclasts

Alan Kelly, one of the PR industry’s “true iconoclasts,” dies at 64

by | Apr 24, 2022

Alan Kelly, Bethesda, Maryland, who died at the age of 64, was one of the public relations industry’s “true iconoclasts, an original thinker and a frequent critic of what he saw as either hypocrisy or naivete in the profession,” reports PRovoke Media.

The PRovoke Media obit states: “Having worked at legendary technology public relations pioneer Jennings & Company in the 1980s, Alan Kelly founded his own firm, Applied Communications, in 1991 and built it into one of the largest and most respected agencies in Silicon Valley.

“Applied grew to become a firm of 120 people with offices in San Francisco and Amsterdam at the height of the dot-com boom—although most of its clients were enterprise software, hardware and networking companies including Oracle, HP, Cisco, Genentech, PayPal, Veritas, and Informatica. It was also one of the first PR agencies to recognize the critical importance of data and analytics and to create its own research division.

“In 2003, Kelly sold Applied to Next Fifteen—parent to rival technology PR brands such as Text 100 and Bite Communications—and embarked on a second life as an educator and a consultant. He created a new firm, Playmaker Systems, (a Bethesda, MD-based strategy and analytics firm) which developed a typology of “plays” that communicators could “run” to outmaneuver their competitors—a strategy guide for those who saw communications, as he did, as a competitive sport. In doing so, he challenged practitioners to think differently, and more strategically, about what they did.

“He wrote a book, “The Elements of Influence: The New Essential System for Managing Competition, Reputation, Brand, and Buzz,” he became a blogger for the Huffington Post, and later a commentator and political analyst for SiriusXM. He was an adjunct professor at USC’s Annenberg School and George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, and later a lecturer in strategic communication at the University of Maryland—making him one of the few PR practitioners to bridge the divide between the practice and academia.

“Lou Hoffman, founder and CEO of The Hoffman Agency, added: “I got to know Alan as a competitor in the 1990s and early 2000s as he built Applied Communications into a powerhouse that walked to its own drummer. At some point, I sized up Alan as the smartest individual I had ever come across in the PR industry. My view on this never changed.”

More here.

PHOTO: PRovoke Media

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Capitol Communicator

Capitol Communicator is a unique online and offline resource for Mid-Atlantic advertising, marketing, public relations, digital and media communications professionals. The e-magazine, e-newsletters and events bring together communications professionals, fostering community and providing important information; news; trends; education; and opportunities for networking, career enhancement, business exchange and showcasing great work. Visit www.capitolcommunicator.com to learn more.

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