SOSTAC – a PR planning system

SOSTAC Planning System

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® is a simple and brilliant marketing plan structure that is easily adapted for PR.

If you’re using AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency), stop it and use SOSTAC® instead.

Here’s a short guide (you’ll have to visit us for the rest):


SOSTAC® Planning System

SOSTAC® is a circular process – once it’s in place, you just keep it rolling. If your tactics aren’t working, turn back a stage, adjust what you’re doing, then keep going round the process. When you get to the end, use what you’ve learned to start again.

SOSTAC® explained

  • S – Situation analysis – where are you now?
  • O – Objectives – where do you want to go?
  • S – Strategy – how are you going to get there?
  • T – Tactics – what are the things you’ll do, when and how?
  • A – Action – do your thing and manage the tactics well.
  • C – Control – how did you do?

Define your organisation’s PR problems in order to work out communications priorities. Look at the wider market, target audiences and competitors.

Take research seriously and embed it in your planning process. Using SOSTAC® means you must research regularly, rather than conduct one-off audits that you’ll soon forget.

If your PR objectives aren’t matched to business goals, you’ve got it wrong. Make your objectives very specific, with timelines/deadlines included. Build measurement in – set performance indicators (KPIs) and monitor them throughout the process.

Don’t jump from objectives to tactics. Strategy is the central approach and guiding principle behind your tactical work. Spend time on getting it right before you start any communications activities.

Organise your brand messaging around your objectives, then segment and target audiences. Decide on the kind of media and influencers that will help you reach the right people.

Now you can choose what to do, how and when you should communicate, etc. Decide on the specific channels you’re going to use and plot timelines.

Get out there and do your thing. Allocate projects, tasks and budgets, manage processes, use external agencies, have fun.

You’ve set meaningful objectives in order to make this stage fast and easy. Monitor progress constantly, measure campaign outputs and outcomes, review work done and evaluate your results.

Use what you’ve learned in the evaluation process to keep improving as you go round the circle again.

Learn more in our PR strategy course

This is extracted from our Developing PR strategy course.

Download a large version of the SOSTAC® graphic.

SOSTAC® is a registered trade mark of PR Smith. For more information on SOSTAC® Planning & becoming a SOSTAC® Certified Planner visit