Breaking It Down
What exactly is a GOST outline? It might sound the same as the ghost we tell stories about, (goʊst); but there couldn’t be anything more different. In the world of PR, a GOST outline is one of the “most commonly employed by PR practitioners with regard to their communications plans.” Each of the four letters in the model can then be broken down into the following:
- G: Goals. What is the over-arching idea you are trying to accomplish? Are you attempting to solve a company’s problem? Increase promotions of a client by a certain percentage among a target audience? The types and amount of goals are almost limitless. (Yet, each goal is “SMART,” or Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time-based. Overall, SMART goals is a whole other blog post in itself which we may touch on later this year.)
- O: Next are the Objectives. These are the measurable aspects of your PR campaign planning. For example, if you want to increase attendance to city council meetings by 15% in the next year for the city of Rock Island, this would be a great objective for the city’s PR rep.
- S: Then there are Strategies, the tricky part of the outline. Often confused with Goals and Objective, Strategies are answering “Why” you are doing something. For example, the city of Rock Island might encourage active parents of local schools in their district to go to the city council meetings because the local government affects the schools their kids go to. This is a Strategy.
- T: The Tactics of a GOST outline is where the planner has to become meticulous and boarder-line OCD. Here is where you list specific ways you are going to accomplish your strategies. Going off of our previous example, the city of Rock Island could promote the city council at parent-teacher meetings within the local schools, or send their kids home with flyers for their parents by distributing materials to schools and their classrooms.
Why is it so important to do a GOST outline?! Just like a ghost is a physical manifestation of some spirit’s essence, a GOST outline is the structural apparition of the PR campaign. As PR professionals, we plan so we succeed. A GOST outline is one of the most commonly used tools we utilize to put our ideas on paper, for our own use and to show/express our ideas to clients. For this exact reason we can relate GOST back to another PR acronym, the RACE outline (Research, Actions Planning, Communication, and Evaluation). For many professionals, a “GOST” is one of the easiest, most effective ways to action plan and complete the “A” part of RACE in our big bowl of PR alphabet soup, and who doesn’t like soup? Bon appetit.