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Playmaker Systems Comes to Australia

Taking the guesswork out of influence strategy

Sydney, 6 February 2013 - Business communications and marketing consultant Alan Smith is bringing the patented Playmaker Influence Decision System and methodology to Australia and New Zealand.  He has been named an Affiliate of Playmaker Systems, LLC, based in Bethesda in the US, the first outside the United States.

Influence is arguably the most important outcome of any communications, political, or information campaign.  It is also the most difficult to manage and measure. It’s imperative to understand how it is practised and consumed at an elemental level. The Playmaker Influence Decision System and its Standard Table of Influence is the first definitive taxonomy and ontology of influence plays – the cuts, thrusts and parries – that swirl around us all. Plays underpin reputation, trust, brand, sentiment and credibility.  

The system has been used and tested by companies, universities, and governments in other parts of the world, including Royal Dutch Shell, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Intel, VMware, SAP AG, Dow Corning, Abbott, and the U.S. Department of Defence.

Modern expectations of public discourse, legislated transparency, and corporate social responsibility make the Playmaker system increasingly important.  For a public increasingly cynical of media, companies and activist groups, The Standard Table of Influence serves as a measuring stick and springboard for productive change, social cohesion, economic growth and democracy.

In the Australian context, plays are what we observe when Qantas is under attack from either unions or previous management. Plays are the jousts across the dispatch box in the House of Representatives between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. They are how mining companies influence the scope and structure of the mining resources tax.

Everyone seeks to influence everyone else, from the Prime Minister to your two-year-old child. The Playmaker system maps, analyses and models how plays can be created, tested and run. Most importantly, it explains how plays can be complemented or countered by friendly or rival players.

Quotes from Alan Smith

“Most people with influence, be they public relations professionals, marketers, politicians, CEOs or advocates, run plays. Everyone seeks to influence their respective audiences. And plays are in turn run on them. For many of us it’s an instinctive process. What the Playmaker system provides is a structure to simulate, predict and plan these plays. Cause and effect are easier to predict. And with this system you have a tested and rational collection of stratagems on which to call.”

“The announcement by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard of 14th September as the Federal Election date will bring Playcalling in Australia into sharp focus. We already see the two main parties running plays designed to draw the opposing camp, manage bad news, and attack and counter-attack. But Playcalling applies equally to the commercial sector and to the non-profit sector. Companies seek to set their operations in a context that suits them. Non-profits seek to deploy powerful advocates and arguments for their causes, often in the face of entrenched opposition. When mapped and planned, plays are powerful aids to influence.”

Quote from Alan Kelly

“It’s exciting to expand overseas with the Playmaker system. Australia’s political debate is certainly one rich in plays, and the announcement of the date for the Federal Election means we can say, let battle commence! What will be fascinating will be to see how the plays we saw last year in the US Presidential Election compare with those we are about to see in another political system.”


Issued by Alan Smith.
0404 432 700.
Twitter handle @AlanSmithOz.

Background information

The Origins of the Playmaker System

The idea of the Playmaker ontology was sparked in 1995, while Playmaker Systems founder and CEO, Alan Kelly, led Applied Communications Group, a communications and research consultancy based in Silicon Valley. One of Applied’s clients was the US software giant Oracle Corporation. When Oracle’s contrarian CEO Larry Ellison declared before a Paris technology conference and his rival, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, that “the PC is a ridiculous device,” Kelly knew that something special had just happened. Ellison had driven what tech history often judges as the first crack into what was the Microsoft-Intel monopoly and triggered the procession from client-server computing to network computing to today’s cloud computing. Ellison’s statement gave Kelly the idea that the games and gamesmanship of players and market places could be distilled into a framework of irreducible strategies, or influence plays, that anyone can use.  

The Playmaker approach was first described in 2006 in Alan Kelly’s book The Elements of Influence.  The system was updated and released last year, and documented in a whitepaper.

The Playmaker System in Brief

The Playmaker system describes precisely what influence professionals do (whether this be communications, commercial marketing, social media, sales or political strategy), how they do it, and the likely outcomes of their actions.

The system is a collection of 24 fundamental stratagems (plays), laid out in a simple Standard Table of Influence, which allow influencers to plan, model and run plays.

It is analogous to a chemist’s periodic table, music’s notation system, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and the expediency of a fighter pilot’s brevity code.  

Plays might test a market for its reaction, or provoke a reaction, but both on the playmaker’s terms.

An example of a testing play is one called the Trial Balloon in which an idea (perhaps for a new product, perhaps for a new policy) is floated to see how the public or customers might react.

An example of a play that provokes is named the Call Out in which mockery or moral indignation is directed at a person or a company. Julia Gillard’s now-famous misogyny speech in the House of Representatives is an example of such a play.

The Standard Table of Influence is supported by two other models for explaining and managing influence.  Standard Factors of Influence is a simplified reference of the many factors that describe and determine the context of plays.  Standard Cycles of Influence details two methodologies that explain how plays are conceived, introduced and managed in real-time for competitive and collaborative advantage.


The Playmaker System is detailed in a companion white paper, An Evolution in Influence: The Playmaker Influence Decision System 2.0.

To read Playmaker Systems founder Alan Kelly’s analysis of the Play for the US Presidency that saw Barack Obama win his second term, visit http://www.playmakersystems.com/playsforthepresidency/.

The Playmaker System’s Standard Table of Influence can be viewed at http://www.playmakersystems.com/the-playmaker-system/the-

The Glossary of Influence Plays can be viewed at http://www.playmakersystems.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Sys-2.0-Playmaker-Glossary2.pdf.

To see more about Plays influence wider audience in Standard Cycles of Influence read http://www.playmakersystems.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Sys-2.0-Playmaker-Cycles-of-Influence1.pdf

For more on Alan Smith, visit his blog: talkingcobblers.wordpress.com.

For more on Alan Kelly, visit http://www.playmakersystems.com/about/leadership/alan-kelly/

All indicated trademarks are owned by Playmaker Systems, LLC.  Reproduction or distribution without the permission of Playmaker Systems is prohibited.  Copyright © 2005-2013 Playmaker Systems, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.  U.S. Patent No. 8,245,156.  European Patents Pending.