Communication campaigns have functioned as vehicles of public information and persuasion throughout history. Issues driving them have included religion, politics, and culture—and more recently, the marketing of commercial goods and services, value-driven causes, and economic and social development. Such campaigns have often provided publics with scientific and technical content, either implicitly as the bases for campaign appeals or explicitly as the foci of the programs. By far the most conspicuous uses of such science and technology-based campaigns have centered on health and environmental issues, the emphasis in this entry.

According to Ronald Rice and Charles Atkin, in this context, a useful broad definition of public communication campaigns is that they are directed to a large and “relatively well-defined” audience in an attempt to “inform, persuade, ...

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