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Uses for SOSTAC? PR is a great candidate

January 28, 2011
Stained Glass at St Denys, York

Trying to make sense out of a jumble of chaos - SOSTAC helps provide a working framework for PR strategy

One of the most useful acronyms for marketers is AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) or its sister AIDCA where Conviction is added. But when it comes to solving problems, or helping marketers with problems, I always turn to PR Smith’s SOSTAC.

PR Smith? Yes, the author of the incredibly-readable and effective Marketing Communications, published by Kogan Page (the publisher of “practical books for profitable business” and a new edition coming soon). And the man who (being from Ireland) always likes to describe the marketing mix as a group of Irish marketers…

SOSTAC? Situational Analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action, Control. A fully structured model which allows the marketer to perceive the environment, set targets and then deliver them. Fundamentally, it’s not too different from a strategic marketing plan in outputs but its effectiveness lies in its simplicity of structure.

OK, I’m a bit biassed. I was Marketing Director at Kogan Page for a few years but I always prefer simple approaches to arcane and otiose works. I tried Chris Fill’s book many times (indeed, it was the recommended book for CIM courses) but I found it unnecessarily academic and for a simple, structured approach, PR Smith’s approach works hands down every time.

SOSTAC was designed to be used strategically for helping marketing communications professionals create an approach for analysing, reaching and managing communications strategy. But over the years, I have used it in both large consultancy assignments and in small direct marketing projects such as letter writing, brochures and corporate literature such as management reports.

Just recently, I have been working with a publishing PR team and we’ve found it to be really helpful in helping bring some order to the chaos. PR in publishing is often related to a book programme and with a few corporate announcements thrown in. But we’re working with publisher brand and positioning and here SOSTAC has been really helpful – even though we’re just at the start of the process.

With SOSTAC, we’ve been able to identify key positioning of the business and also sub-sets of the business; out which we are developing a series of objectives and strategies from which will come a focused tactical approach and a detailed action plan. It’s early days but already we’ve found it to be a great framework.

It’s helped us to focus on the company’s current position and how we want to see the business positioned. It’s helping us to put together a framework for message roll-out. And it will help us define how, when and where we pitch the business in its existing and future markets.

More news in due course, readers!

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