monthly focus: tradition 11

“Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.” 

WITHOUT its legions of well-wishers, A.A. could never have grown as it has. Throughout the world, immense and favorable publicity of every description has been the principal means of bringing alcoholics into our Fellowship. In A.A. offices, clubs, and homes, telephones ring constantly. One voice says, “I read a piece in the newspapers…”; another, “We heard a radio program…”; and still another, “We saw a moving picture…” or “We saw something about A.A. on television… .” It is no exaggeration to say that half of A.A.’s membership has been led to us through channels like these.

The inquiring voices are not all alcoholics or their families. Doctors read medical papers about Alcoholics Anonymous and call for more information. Clergymen see articles in their church journals and also make inquiries. Employers learn that great corporations have set their approval upon us, and wish to discover what can be done about alcoholism in their own firms. 

Therefore, a great responsibility fell upon us to develop the best possible public relations policy for Alcoholics Anonymous. Through many painful experiences, we think 180 TRADITION ELEVEN 181 we have arrived at what that policy ought to be. It is the opposite in many ways of usual promotional practice. We found that we had to rely upon the principle of attraction rather than of promotion.

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Traditions Checklist from the A.A. Grapevine

Tradition Eleven: Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.

  1. Do I sometimes promote AA so fanatically that I make it seem unattractive?
  2. Am I always careful to keep the confidences reposed in me as an AA member?
  3. Am I careful about throwing AA names around—even within the Fellowship?
  4. Am I ashamed of being a recovered, or recovering, alcoholic?
  5. What would AA be like if we were not guided by the ideas in Tradition Eleven? Where would I be?
  6. Is my AA sobriety attractive enough that a sick drunk would want such a quality for himself?

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As Bill Sees It — 255

Wider Understanding      
To reach more alcoholics, understanding of A.A. and public good will towards A.A. must go on growing everywhere. We need to be on still better terms with medicine, religion, employers, governments, courts, prisons, mental hospitals, and all enterprises in the alcoholism field. We need the increasing good will of editors, writers, television and radio channels. These publicity outlets need to be opened ever wider.  
                 ———          
Nothing matters more to A.A.’s future welfare than the manner in which we use the colossus of modern communication. Used unselfishly and well, it can produce results surpassing our present imagination.

Should we handle this great instrument badly, we shall be shattered by the ego manifestations of our own people. Against this peril, A.A. members’ anonymity before the general public is our shield and our buckler.          
1. TWELVE CONCEPTS, P. 51
2. GRAPEVINE, NOVEMBER 1960 2.  GRAPEVINE, NOVEMBER 1960