The STELa planning framework is a guide to the key stages, tasks and activities that are required when planning delivering, managing and evaluating an intervention designed to influence health-related behaviour. The four stages of any effective plan aimed at influencing health behaviour before, during or after a pandemic event are set out in this STELa planning guide. This guide will help those responsible for planning effective marketing and communication interventions in support of pandemic management programmes.


STELa was developed following an extensive analysis of all previous social marketing planning tools and other generic planning approaches such as Log Frame planning. STELa reflects the characteristics of effective planning described in the reviews undertaken by WP3. The design of STELa has been informed by ECOM. A full version of the STELA model developed by French and Apfel was in 2014 adopted by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) as part of its first technical guidance on social marketing. A full version of STELa with an accompanying set of social marketing planning development tools can be downloaded for free from the ECDC website here.


The principle that guided the design of STELa was the need for a simple but robust planning framework, based on modern marketing principles and the best evidence about what planning tasks lead to improved programme performance. There was a need for a planning model that can applied by those not trained in formal planning systems and those new to social marketing and health behavioural change communication. To help them complete each step and task in the planning process, STELA was designed with a set of in-built planning tools that can be simply pulled down and used when completing each task. When using any version of the tool practitioners should always critically reflect on the process and tasks suggested to ensure that they are relevant to the population, challenge and issues at hand rather than just mechanically complete each stage and task of the model.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has endorsed the STELa planning framework and has issues its own more detailed version of this guidance together with a comprehensive additional tool kit to support programme planning using STELa. This tool should ideally be used in conjunction with the ‘Identifying your options’ tool and the ‘Specifying objectives ’ tool set out elsewhere on this site.