Dr. Myleea D. Hill is a professor of strategic communication at Arkansas State University. Myleea worked as an award-winning reporter/photographer at small daily newspapers in Arkansas before moving into public relations and administration in higher education. She continues to serve as consultant and volunteer with media relations for non-profit organizations. Dr. Marceline Hayes is professor and department chair of communication studies at Arkansas State University and is an alumna of the Department of Applied Communication at UA Little Rock. She is the author of several published manuscripts in prestigious journals such as the Journal of Family Communication, Communication Education, Argumentation & Advocacy, Computers in Human Behavior, and the Southern Communication Journal.
Hill and Hayes take on contemporary “awareness culture” in which awareness of a cause, like breast cancer, is seen as a panacea for all health problems. Hill and Hayes argue that awareness as an endpoint in public health campaigns is misguided, ineffective, and possibly even harmful. Instead, they conceive of awareness as one step in the beginning of a robust campaign. Drawing on communication research and theory such as Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations, they offer a theoretical model depicting four overlapping elements (i.e., recognition/involvement, education/knowledge seeking, participation, and commitment) that can be used to guide health campaigns research and practice, which may help ultimately lead to cures and the eradication of disease. After listening to Hill & Hayes, the next time consumers see “awareness” products for sale, they may at least ask where the profits are going. Hill & Hayes not only offer a critique of awareness culture and the development of a theoretical model, they provide advice for health campaign planners and insights for consumers.