Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations


Public Relations & Advertising


College of Communication & Creative Arts

First Advisor

Bagin, Don


African Americans--Health and hygiene; AIDS (Disease) in mass media; AIDS (Disease)--Prevention


Public Relations and Advertising


The purpose of the study was to determine whether using celebrities to deliver HIV/AIDS prevention awareness messages to the African-American community is an effective public relations strategy.

Celebrities are used to persuade people to buy shoes, cars, toothpaste, etc., but can they persuade people to change risky behavior: protecting themselves and others from the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases?

Research conducted for this thesis found celebrities to be effective tools when their actions coincide or mirror the message. Celebrities that are perceived to be irresponsible or whose lyrics and/or actions do not coincide with safe-sex aren't taken seriously, thereby rendering their message ineffective.

Messages delivered by non-celebrities can be just as powerful as those delivered by celebrities if done appropriately, according to study findings.

Research for this thesis came from the following: The Centers for Disease Control, face-to-face interviews, Internet searches, and focus panels. The focus panels were conducted to compare listeners' reactions to non-celebrity personal service announcements and celebrity personal service announcements.