Discussion related to the 12 Traditions
Tradition 11 - "Our public relations policy is based on attraction, not promotion. We need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press radio and films."
We have an interesting little controversy brewing in one of our local groups. First a little background. About a year ago (before my time) one of the old-timers in my home group decided it would be nice to have a Friday morning meeting at 8:00 am. He thought it would be a nice way to start off the weekend, and everyone would be fresh early in the morning. It ended up becoming it's own group, the "As Bill Sees It" Group. The leader reads several passages from the book "As Bill Sees It", and we discuss it I really like it because it is usually very small (8-10 folks) and most of the folks are retired and have a lot of sobriety and experience and I need all the help I can get (I'm not retired, but can set my own hours).
Anyway, one of the regulars has a friend who works for the local weekly paper (we live in a pretty small town). This regular, I guess, had confided in this guy from the paper that she was a member of AA. He told her that he was working on an article entitled "Recovery on the Island!" or some such theme and asked if he could attend a meeting with her to see what one was like. So yesterday morning she put it in front of the group before the meeting started (there were only 8 of us there). Holey Moley! You'd have thought WWIII had just broken out. Out of the 8 people there, I heard at least 14 different opinions. No! Yes! Tell 'im we don't want 'im! Give him some pamphets! Call the district! The State! Call New York!!! If he's here I'll walk out! anon anon. We finally settled down and started the meeting (about 5 mins late) and reserved 10 mins for a quick group conscious meeting. Here's what we decided.
1. This meeting is an open meeting, therefore anyone is welcome to attend. However, we ask that those who share confine their comments to matters pertaining to alcoholism. Conduct the meeting the same as we always do.
2. The host (the regular who brought it up) should emphasize to her friend and the meeting leader should re-emphasize the importance of the personal anonymity of our members.
3. If any member of the group is uncomfortable, they should stay away.
4. If you want to use an alias you can ("I'm Bullwinkle, and I'm an alcoholic").
5. Offer copies of our free literature, to provide him with AA approved information regarding the fellowship. (and sell him a Big Book if he wants (or needs) one)
6. It was strongly suggested that any request for personal interviews be declined.
A lot of you may think that this is much ado about nothing, but remember, this is a small town, and many members are well known in the community. Hell, the reporter probably will know half of us anyway. (I remember when I first walked into the rooms, I knew about a half a dozen folks One of the even came up to me and said "I wondered when you'd show up here"...so much for my delusion that no one knew I was a drunk). I think we're handling it right, and if the reporter does a good job, the article may attract some folks out there who need AA but don't know who or what we are. I'm just curious if any of you have had this experience and how you handled it.
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Actually, there is nothing wrong with an article. You can even be quoted, as long as you remain anonymous. Let the newspaper promote recovery.
I know of a situation here, where somebody was writing a term paper for college. My homegroup is also open, and we had a group conscience meeting concerning non alcoholics. We state during the anouncements, that this meeting is open, but please limit discussion to alcoholics or those who think they may be. It has curbed the stupid questions during the meeting, and left the "interviews" til later. I never let them use my name in their papers, but give them as accurate information as I can. I tell them to get a copy of the Big Book from the library and read it.
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if the island is that small,everyone probally knows who the alcoholics are,whether they are drunk or sober
I am not ashamed to let folks know I am sober or where I got sober,but I don`t believe we should let our full names or pics be put in the newspaper..
give him a big book...that should fall under some cpc or pi work...by the way,does your local libary have a few copies of the big book in it?
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On Tradition Eleven
â€œOur public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films."
Editorial by Bill W.
A.A. Grapevine, October, 1948
"Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us."
Providence has been looking after the public relations of Alcoholics Anonymous. It can scarcely have been otherwise. Though more than a dozen years old, hardly a syllable of criticism or ridicule has ever been spoken of A.A. Somehow we have been spared all the pains of medical or religious controversy and we have good friends both wet and dry, right and left. Like most societies, we are sometimes scandalous -- but never yet in public. From all over the world, naught comes but keen sympathy and downright admiration. Our friends of the press and radio have outdone themselves. Anyone can see that we are in a fair way to be spoiled. Our reputation is already so much better than our actual character!
Surely these phenomenal blessings must have a deep purpose. Who doubts that this purpose wishes to let every alcoholic in the world know that A.A. is truly for him, can he only want his liberation enough. Hence, our messages through public channels have never been seriously discolored, nor has the searing breath of prejudice ever issued from anywhere.
Good public relations are A.A. lifelines reaching out to the brother alcoholic who still does not know us. For years to come, our growth is sure to depend upon the strength and number of these lifelines. One serious public relations calamity could always turn thousands away from us to perish -- a matter of life and death indeed!
The future poses no greater problem or challenge to A.A. than how best to preserve a friendly and vital relation to all the world about us. Success will heavily rest upon right principles, a wise vigilance and the deepest personal responsibility on the part of every man jack of us. Nothing less will do. Else our brother may again turn his face to the wall because we did not care enough.
So, the 11th Tradition stands sentinel over the lifelines, announcing that there is no need for self-praise, that it is better to let our friends recommend us, and that our whole public relations policy, contrary to usual customs, should be based upon the principle of attraction rather than promotion. Shot in the arm methods are not for us -- no press agents, no promotional devices, no big names. The hazards are too great. Immediate results will always be illusive because easy shortcuts to notoriety can generate permanent and smothering liabilities.
More and more, therefore, are we emphasizing the principle of personal anonymity as it applies to our public relations. We ask of each other the highest degree of personal responsibility in this respect. As a movement, we have been, before now, tempted to exploit the names of our well known public characters. We have rationalized that other societies, even the best, do the same. As individuals, we have sometimes believed that the public use of our names could demonstrate our personal courage in the face of stigma; so lending power and conviction to news stories and magazine articles.
But these are not the allures they once were. Vividly, we are becoming aware that no member ought to describe himself in full view of the general public as an A.A., even for the most worthy purpose, lest a perilous precedent be set which would tempt others to do likewise for purposes not so worthy.
We see that on breaking anonymity by press, radio or pictures, anyone of us could easily transfer the valuable name of Alcoholics Anonymous over onto any enterprise or into the midst of any controversy.
So, it is becoming our code that there are things that no A.A. ever does, lest he divert A.A. from its sole purpose and injure our public relations. And thereby the chances of those sick ones yet to come.
To the million alcoholics who have not yet heard our A.A. story we should ever say, "Greetings and welcome. Be assured that we shall never weaken the lifelines which we float out to you. In our public relations, we shall, God willing, keep the faith."
The A.A. Grapevine, October, 1948
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I was thinking about this topic after hearing yesterday that a former participant of Celebrity Rehab died yesterday. I have watched this show and not thought too much about the anonymity thing. I don't know if they even use AA or 12 steps on the show but it is most certainly NOT anonymous. Do you suppose the reason for anonymity is so the celebrity alcoholic doesn't have the added pressure of going through recovery and sobriety in the public eye? Or is it just so that we alcoholics can feel safe about keeping our anonymity if we join? Maybe it's both. Just interesting topic to ponder.
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PeaceJoy wrote:I was thinking about this topic after hearing yesterday that a former participant of Celebrity Rehab died yesterday. I have watched this show and not thought too much about the anonymity thing. I don't know if they even use AA or 12 steps on the show but it is most certainly NOT anonymous. Do you suppose the reason for anonymity is so the celebrity alcoholic doesn't have the added pressure of going through recovery and sobriety in the public eye? Or is it just so that we alcoholics can feel safe about keeping our anonymity if we join? Maybe it's both. Just interesting topic to ponder.
the impression I always had was we wanted our members to stay anonymous so that no one face (or group of faces) was the face of AA. Also in those early days I think they were afraid that if a member went back out publicly it would give the impression that AA didn't work and would hamper our ability to carry the message to the next drunk
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