Are Public Awareness
Campaigns Effective?

Research conducted in the areas of health prevention and promotion has found public awareness campaigns to be effective, but effectiveness depends…on a lot of factors.

For public awareness campaigns to be effective it is important to dedicate time and resources to planning.  A comprehensive plan will assist all organizations and agencies involved.  A well-developed plan includes information about evaluation and planning around unanticipated barriers or challenges1.

It is also important to decide on the purpose of your message to determine the content. For example, do you want your message to: 

  • raise public awareness, 
  • promote a specific value, 
  • garner support for policy changes, or 
  • increase specific actions or behaviors on the part of your audience?  

As a communicator, you need to know what you want to impart to your audience, such as:  

  • What do you want them to think?  
  • How do you want them to feel?  
  • What action do you want them to take?  
  • What is the goal of the public awareness campaign? 
  • What do you hope to accomplish through the campaign?

Generally, communication campaigns are more successful if the messages are tailored to the local audience’s context, values, and resources. Another important aspect is ensuring your audience understands the message.  The message or campaign should speak/use the language and voice of the target audience.

Throughout this toolkit we highlight five key points that have been found to improve the effectiveness of a public awareness campaign2.  The five key points in the public awareness campaign process are: 

  • Partnerships, 
  • Target audience, 
  • Tailor the message, 
  • Multiple communication methods, and 
  • Evaluate your efforts.

1“Making Health Communication Programs Work, A Planner’s Guide,” National Cancer Institute,

2“Public Awareness Campaigns,” Military REACH, a project of the Department of Defense USDA Partnership for Military Families (July 2015) accessed October 11, 2022 Detail Result – Military REACH Library (

Other tools in this section


Examine the landscape to determine if your public awareness campaign relates to other active initiatives at the local, regional, state, or national level.

Determine Your
Target Audience

Who do you hope to reach with the campaign?

Tailor the Message to the Target Audience

Messaging presents facts about the key issue to educate the individual, community, or society. Your audience may vary in terms of knowledge of the topic.

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