© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., October 1948
has been looking after the public relations of Alcoholics
Anonymous. It can scarcely have been otherwise. Though
we are more than a dozen years old, hardly a syllable
of criticism or ridicule has ever been spoken of AA. 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
these phenomenal blessings must have a deep purpose. Who
doubts that this purpose wishes to let every alcoholic
in the world know that AA 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
public relations are AA lifelines reaching out to the
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!
future poses no greater problem or challenge to AA than
how best to preserve a friendly and vital relation to
all the world about us. Success will rest heavily upon
right principles, a wise vigilance, and the deepest personal
responsibility on the part of every one of us. Nothing
less will do. Else our brother may again turn his face
to the wall because we did not care enough.
the Eleventh 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.
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,
ever 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 new stories and magazine articles.
these are not the allures they once were. Vividly, we
are becoming aware that no member sought to describe himself
in full view of the general public as an AA, even for
the most worthy purpose, lest a perilous precedent be
set which tempt others to do likewise for purposes not
see that on breaking anonymity by press, radio, or pictures,
any one of us could easily transfer the valuable name
of Alcoholics Anonymous over onto any enterprise into
the midst of any controversy.
it is becoming our code that there are things that no
AA ever does, lest he divert AA from its sole purpose
and injure our public relations. And thereby the chances
of those sick ones yet to come.
the million alcoholics who have not yet heard our AA 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, Inc., October 1948
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