The Elements of Influence, Alan Kelly, Penguin Group, 2006. 304
pp. Illustrations, appendix, glossary, index. ISBN
Reviewed for Ground Rules Newsletter by:
Nancy P. Regelin, Esquire
Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A.
Land use attorneys need a wide ranging set of skills and tools
to help them effectively influence the outcome of a development
application. In the face of sophisticated opposition, lack of
political support, or unpopularity of a specific project, the
land use practitioner needs a play book of moves and
countermoves to manage opposition, reputation, and buzz. Alan
Kelly has written such a playbook.
Kelly has created a system or “periodic chart” that clearly
defines 25 moves for outmaneuvering the opposition, protecting a
reputation, advancing ideas, controlling public discussions, and
moving a proposition forward. The book is targeted to business
leaders, marketers, politicians, and public relations experts,
but is also an applicable guide for land use practitioners. In a
clear, illustrated format, Kelly outlines precisely how to
recognize, implement, counter, and master the ploys, plays and
plans of all the players in the game.
As an example, have you ever used a “Label” to reshape the
public’s perception? A Label can be a suggestive nickname or a
well crafted sound bite that simplifies a complicated issue.
Think “Slick Willy” vs. “The Comeback Kid” (Clinton) or “Intel
Inside” (Intel chips).
How do you counter when a Label is used against your project?
Alan Kelly provides a bevy of options to choose from.
When the opposition calls for historic designation to prevent
redevelopment and labels a building that had previously been
voted the ugliest building in town as “The Pink Bank,” try
countering with: 1) a new Label – “The Future Site of Our New
Town Center”; 2) expose the hypocrisy by running a “Mirror” –
“Why are they calling it Pink? There is nothing pink about that
building.”; 3) run a “Bait” – ridicule the made up Label –“It’s
an act of desperation to call it The Pink Bank because they
otherwise have no valid justifications for historic designation”
; 4) recast the Label as a bridge back to your position – “We
may have fond memories of the Pink Bank but we knew then and we
know now that it has no significant historical or architectural
value”; or 5) run a “Bear Hug” – embrace the opposition’s point
and use the opportunity and platform to good naturedly reinforce
your position – “We support historic preservation but it
undermines the value of other historic resources to designate
marginal or inappropriate properties”.
The book provides invaluable ideas for times of strategic
planning and for periods of crisis management.
The Elements of Influence decodes the plays that land use
practitioners use, and opposition to projects use against
everyday. The book outlines how to use the plays, how to
recognize a play being used against you, and also importantly,
which are the most effective moves to counter opposing plays.
The information in this book will serve as a resource in your
land use practice for years to come.