The PI Committee Goals
The goal of AA Public Information is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
- Through informing the general public about the AA program
- Through reaching a third person whose work is or may be involved with the active alcoholic
- By keeping the Fellowship of AA well-informed, so that members and groups may carry the message more effectively.
- Every public library has at least one Conference-approved book (e.g. the Big Book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, or Living Sober).
- Let the Fellowship know how to reach out to the hearing impaired
- Place a literature rack in every high school, college, police station, library and hospital in the district and keep the rack stacked with appropriate literature and meeting schedules.
- Send a letter to high schools, offering AA literature and/or a presentation on AA - what we do and what we do not do.
- Send a letter to convalescent homes, rest homes and senior centers in the district offering AA literature and/or a presentation on AA.
- List open AA meetings in the newspapers in the District.
- Place a small (paid if necessary) announcement in every District newspaper around the holidays.
- Work with the newspapers - anonymity, Traditions- generating interest in our Fellowship.
- Respond to speaking requests at non-AA meeting in the District.
- Place Public Service Announcements with radio and television stations.
- Put meeting schedules behind the front desks at every hotel, motel, and bed and breakfast.
- Participate in District and State AA seminars and conventions.
- Fight apathy within the Fellowship, find a co-chair and interested people in order to achieve all the above, and most importantly, keep your sanity and stay away from the first drink.
AA Material or Activity
Audience or Place
- Speakers (AA members) formal or informal talk
- Speakers (Other 'Friends' of AA)
- Literature Racks
- Big Books and other AA Books
- Table top displays
- Meeting lists
- Regular AA Pamphlets
- Special AA Pamphlets
- Information Sheets for Special Occasions
- News Releases
- Business Cards (not will full name)
- Grapevines (Our Meeting in Print)
- Box 459
- Literature Request Forms
- Anonymity Statement Card
- Newspapers and Regional Magazines
- Television (Broadcast or cable)
- Public Information held by AA
- Schools (Usually High school or beyond)
- Health Fairs
- County Fairs and other community events
- Social, Fraternal, and Service Groups
- Professional Groups
- Church Groups
- Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
- Doctor's waiting rooms
- Social Services (other agencies)
- Nursing Schools
- Psychology and Social Sciences Classes
- Jails and Treatment Facilities
- AA Gatherings in general
For PI Committee Members
The following information will provide the background and resources you need to become an informed Public Information Committee Member. Being well-informed will insure that you are able to carry the message more effectively to a third person whose work is or may be involved with the active alcoholic.
- PI Workbook
- AA Guidelines:
- Other Service Material:
Information To Share
This information will assist a third person whose work is or may be involved with the active alcoholic.
Public Information Service Materials
The Service Material referenced above is part of the resource material available from the World Services, Inc. If you desire to obtain any of these materials, a literature catalog, or an AA Literature Order form, please contact:
World Services, Inc.
Post Office Box 459
Grand Central Station
New York, NY 10163
Telephone: (212) 870-3400
Link to G.S.O. P.I. Information
A Summary of Public Information in Alcoholics Anonymous - Taken from AA Approved Literature
Declaration of Responsibility
I am responsible...
When anyone, anywhere reaches out for help,
I want the hand of AA always to be there.
And, for that: I am responsible.
What is Public Information?
PI in Alcoholics Anonymous means carrying the message of recovery to the still-suffering alcoholic by informing the general public about the AA program. We carry the message by getting in touch with media, schools, industry, and other organizations, which can report on the nature and purpose of AA and what it can do for alcoholics.
"In all public relations, AA's sole objective is to help the still suffering alcoholic. Always mindful of the importance of personal anonymity we believe this can be done by making known to him, and to those who may be interested in his problems, our own experiences as individuals and as a Fellowship in learning to live without alcohol. We believe that our experience should be made available freely to all who express sincere interest. We believe further that all efforts in this field should always reflect our gratitude for the gift of sobriety and our awareness that many outside AA are equally concerned with the serious problem of alcoholism."
Working within the Concepts and Traditions
The Twelve Traditions are our Traditions and the responsibility for preserving them is ours. There is a fundamental importance to informing all PI committee members about these Traditions. With this groundwork, PI committee members can effectively communicate AA principles to the general public and the media. Thoughtful reading of our literature is essential for anyone who works with non-AA's.
- "We need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films."
- Anonymity to this extent is actually the practice of genuine humility.
- Even within the fellowship every member's name and story needs to be confidential if the member so wishes it.
- As a Fellowship, we wish to publicize our principles and our work but not individual members.
- To us the Tradition of anonymity is far more than a sound public relations policy. It is more a denial of self-seeking.
- This tradition of anonymity is a constant and practical reminder that personal ambition has no place in AA.
- The spiritual substance of anonymity is sacrifice.
- Moved by the spirit of anonymity, we try to give up our natural desires for personal distinction both among fellow alcoholics and before the general public.
- We are sure that humility, expressed by anonymity, is the greatest safeguard that Alcoholics Anonymous can ever have.
"Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion."
Who can participate? And how?
Individual - establish relationship with medical community by identifying ourselves as AA members to own doctor or other professionals (lawyers, educators, employers, law enforcement officers, clergy..)
Committee - Group/District - provide literature and be available to answer questions, host community or public information meetings
With other Committees - Cooperation with the Professional Community (CPC), Treatment Committee, i.e., District 11 has a 'service committee'
Suggested PI Committee Goals
The goal of AA Public Information is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers:
- Through informing the general public about the AA program,
- Through reaching a third person whose work is or may be involved with the active alcoholic, and
- By keeping the Fellowship of AA well-informed, so that members and groups may carry the message more effectively.
Guidelines on Making Presentations
"What AA is and What It Is Not"
- Remember this is basic Twelfth Step work through contact with the public. The purpose of AA is to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.
- Avoid drunkalogues. Keep comments close to AA-related matters. And, maintain our amateur standing, we are not experts when speaking as AA members.
- Read the pamphlet "Speaking at Non-AA Meetings" before undertaking a Public Information presentation.
- Provide appropriate AA Conference-approved pamphlets to the audience or group.
Making a Presentation
- Introduction: "Why I am here?" To carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous; what it is and what it is not.
- You may choose to show an AA Conference-approved video/film such as "Hope: Alcoholics Anonymous" or "AA - Inside View" These videos can be purchased from the General Service Office.
- Read and Explain the AA Preamble.
- Twelve Step and Twelve Traditions: explain them as a whole, not individually.
- Describe types of meetings: open/closed, speaker, discussion, etc. (Reference "Information on Alcoholics Anonymous")
- Where are AA meeting located? Provide the telephone number of your local central office or AA answering service and meeting directories, if appropriate.
- What to expect at an AA meeting
What happens during various kinds of meetings
Temporary and permanent sponsorship
Fellowship: before, during and after meetings
- Describe AA Conference-approved literature in general. Explain that this literature is developed by AA and available to anyone.
- Questions and Answers: Keep it simple
- Express gratitude for the opportunity to share about AA; close.
ANONYMITY - In part, taken from the Public Information Workbook
For Information Regarding Anonymity Online, Click Here
An understanding of anonymity in AA is the first prerequisite for being effective in public information. At first glance the terms anonymity and public information seem to contradict each other. Actually, they don't as these selections from the co-founder's writings demonstrate. Bill W. wrote extensively about anonymity, and this selection from the P.I. Workbook is made up of his words. It is divided into three sections. We follow Bill in distinguishing the significance of anonymity at the practical and the spiritual levels, as well as at the individual and the group levels, the private and public, and the local and national. Then, Bill W. takes up the questions of anonymity breaks and their consequences.
Part I Anonymity - the Need
"In my belief, the entire future of our fellowship hangs upon this vital principle. If we continue to be filled with the spirit and practice of anonymity, no shoal or reef can wreck us. If we forget this principle, the lid to Pandora's box will be off and the spirits of Money, Power, and Prestige will be loosed among us. Obsessed by these evil genii, we might well founder and break up. I devoutly believe this will never happen. No AA principle merits more study and application than this one. I am positive that AA's anonymity is the key to long-time survival.
Bill's Last Message: "Anonymity has two attributes essential to our individual and collective survival; the spiritual and the practical. On the spiritual level, anonymity demands the greatest discipline of which we are capable; on the practical level anonymity has brought protection for the newcomer, respect and support of the world outside, and security from those of us would use AA for sick and selfish purposes."
Anonymity as a spiritual message: "We are sure that humility, expressed by anonymity, is the greatest safeguard that Alcoholics Anonymous can ever have." ". . . anonymity is real humility at work. It is an all-pervading spiritual quality which today keynotes AA life everywhere. Moved by the spirit of anonymity, we try to give up our natural desires for personal distinction as AA members both among fellow alcoholics and before the general public. As we lay aside these very human aspirations, we believe that each of us take part in the weaving of a protective mantle which covers our whole society and under which we may grow and work in unity."
Sacrifice and Survival: "The spiritual substance of anonymity is sacrifice. Because AA's Twelve Traditions repeatedly ask us to give up personal desires for the common good, we realize that the sacrificial spirits, well symbolized by anonymity, is the foundation of all these Traditions. It is AA's proved willingness to make these sacrifices that give people high confidence in our future."
Part II - Anonymity as a Personal Choice
". . .While it is quite evident that most of us believe in anonymity, our practice of the principle does vary a great deal." "Of course, it should be the privileged, even the right, of each individual or group to handle anonymity as they wish. But to do that intelligently we shall need to be convinced that the principle is a good one for practically all of us; indeed we must realize that the future safety and effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous may depend upon its preservation." "It should be the privilege of each individual AA to cloak himself with as much personal anonymity as he desires. His fellow AAs should respect his wishes and help guard whatever status he wants to assume"
Anonymity at the Group Level: "In practice, then, the principle of anonymity seems to come down to this: with one very important exception, the question of how far each individual or group shall go in dropping anonymity is left strictly to the individual or group concerned. The exception is: that all groups or individuals, when writing or speaking for publications as member of Alcoholics Anonymous, feel bound never to disclose their true names. It is at this point of publication that we feel we should draw the line on anonymity. We ought not disclose ourselves to the general public through the media of the press, in pictures, or on the radio."
Anonymity at the Public Level: "Great modesty and humility are needed by every AA member for his own permanent recovery. If these virtues are such vital needs to the individual, so must they be to AA as a whole. This principle of anonymity before the general public can, if we take it seriously enough, guarantee the Alcoholics Anonymous movement these sterling attributes forever. Our public relations policy should mainly rest upon the principle of attraction and seldom, if ever, upon promotion." "The old files at AA headquarters reveal many scores of . . .experiences with broken anonymity. Most of them point up the same lessons. They tell us that we alcoholics are the biggest rationalizers in the world; that fortified with the excuse we are doing great things for AA we can, through broken anonymity, resume our old and disastrous pursuit of personal power and prestige, public honors, and money - the same implacable urges that when frustrated once caused us to drink; the same forces that are today ripping the globe apart at its seams. Moreover, they make clear that enough spectacular anonymity breakers could someday carry our whole society down into the ruinous dead end with them."
Media Attitudes Toward Anonymity: ". . .almost every newspaper reporter who covers us complains, at first, of the difficulty of writing his story without names. But he quickly forgets his difficulty when he realizes that here is a group of people who care nothing for personal gain." "For many years, news channels all over the world have showered AA with enthusiastic publicity, a never-ending stream of it, far out of proportion to the new value involved. Editors tell us why this is. They give us extra space and time because their confidence in AA is complete. The very foundation of that high confidence is, they say, our continual insistence of personal anonymity at the press level."
Part III - Anonymity Breaks
"Of course, no AA need be anonymous to family, friends, or neighbors . . .But before the general public - press, radio, films, television, and the like - the revelation of full names and pictures is the point of peril. This is the main escape hatch for the fearful destructive forces that still lie latent in us all. Here the lid can and must stay dow
". . .we are certain that if such (worldly) forces ever rule our Fellowship, we will perish too, just as other societies have perished throughout human history. Let us not suppose for a moment that we recovered alcoholics are so much better or stronger than other folks; or that because in twenty years nothing has ever happened to AA, nothing ever can."
"Our really great hope lies in the fact that our total experience, as alcoholics and as AA members, has at least taught us the immense power of these forces of self-destruction. These hard-won lessons have made us entirely willing to undertake every personal sacrifice necessary for the preservation of our treasured Fellowship."
Bill's Experience: ". . .I was once a breaker of anonymity myself. . . I learned that the temporary or seeming good can often be the deadly enemy of the permanent best. When it comes to survival for AA, nothing short of our very best will be good enough."
Rationalization of Anonymity Breaks: ". . .they (anonymity breakers) express the belief that our anonymity Tradition is wrong - at least for them. . . They forget that, during their drinking days, prestige and achievement of worldly ambition were their principle aims. They do not realize that, by breaking anonymity, they are unconsciously pursing those old and perilous illusions once more. They forget that the keeping of one's anonymity often means a sacrifice of one's desire for power, prestige, and money. They do not see that if these strivings became general in AA, the course of our whole history would be changes; that we would be sowing the seeds of our own destruction as a society."
Consequences of Anonymity Breaks: "Anyone who would drop their anonymity must reflect that they may set a precedent which could eventually destroy a valuable principle. We must never let any immediate advantage shake us in our determination to keep intact such a really vital tradition."
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