Alcohol and Drug informational resource

Graph, Tradition Eleven

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.”

Eleven— Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. should 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 that our friends recommend us.

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.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Jeshua Ben Joseph

“I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.” Walt Whitman

‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ Phineas T. Barnum

Only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Oscar Wilde

Bill Boards were even employed to shout out the occurrence of our redemption. It worked for Burma Shave as we too have had the closet shave with and through a spiritual intervention. We were on a higher mission; we would prefer to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

Caution rider   To Her    Reckless Dear   Let’s Have less Bull   And Lots More Steer

Burma Shave

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 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.

I was immediately smitten with an attraction to this culture, not in the sense of the culture itself but of the basic way people behaved towards one another, I felt drawn.

I suspect the secret of personal attraction is locked up in our unique imperfections, flaws and frailties. Hugh Mackay

We carry the message by our actions and our attitudes, for it talks to the deaf and it is much easier to be seen by the blind. For words are like birds on the wing, they only find a nest, when you give it a rest and do more than just speak to your feather bed of good intent.


Let’s see how these two contrasting ideas— attraction and promotion— work out. A political party wishes to win an election, so it advertises the virtues of its leadership to draw votes. A worthy charity wants to raise money; forthwith, its letterhead shows the name of every distinguished person whose support can be obtained. Much of the political, economic, and religious life of the world is dependent upon publicized leadership. People who symbolize causes and ideas fill a deep human need. We of A.A. do not question that. But we do have to soberly face the fact that being in the public eye is hazardous, especially for us. By temperament, nearly every one of us had been an irrepressible promoter, and the prospect of a society composed almost entirely of promoters was frightening. Considering this explosive factor, we knew we had to exercise self-restraint.

Cheerfulness is the best promoter of our society of drunks and it is to be as friendly to the stranger as it is to my extended family, in other words everyone.

I am promoting sobriety that rhymes with society that stands for tools, right here in River City for in the end  the crowd cheers and stands for a fool, a hero in my own mind,  it becomes all about me when I slay the unicorn of humility with the dragon of  pride.

The way this restraint paid off was startling. It resulted in more favorable publicity of Alcoholics Anonymous than could possibly have been obtained through all the arts and abilities of A.A.’s best press agents. Obviously, A.A. had to be publicized somehow, so we resorted to the idea that it would be far better to let our friends do this for us. Precisely that has happened, to an unbelievable extent. Veteran newsmen, trained doubters that they are, have gone all out to carry A.A.’s message. To them, we are something more than the source of good stories. On almost every news front, the men and women of the press have attached themselves to us as friends.

If I testify of myself it is not true Jeshua Ben Joseph

At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. KJV

When I toot my own horn the sound is shrill and void, when I beat my own drum it can not be heard for the thud. The noise proclaims a vested interest of gold if not acclaim. When in the mouth of whom there is no ax to grind or claim to fame attention is gathered as a mouth to a flame.

In the beginning, the press could not understand our refusal of all personal publicity. They were genuinely baffled by our insistence upon anonymity. Then they got the point. Here was something rare in the world— a society which said it wished to publicize its principles and its work, but not its individual members. The press was delighted with this attitude. Ever since, these friends have reported A.A. with an enthusiasm which the most ardent members would find hard to match.

Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. Benjamin Franklin

The best marketing stratagem that has been ever devised was to tell them It was all said in confidence that mum was the word and if the word leaked out that they wouldn’t be responsible, for it would create such a stir, it would resonate around the entire world even accelerating through the curves.

Everyone got fifteen minutes of fame and jockeyed tirelessly to get out their name; unless you were a member of A.A. then you would prefer to be publicly forgotten as in Inamorata (without a name)

A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one. Mary Kay Ash

The definition of a sale:  the transference of enthusiasm

There was actually a time when the press of America thought the anonymity of A.A. was better for us than some of our own members did. At one point, about a hundred of our Society were breaking anonymity at the public level. With perfectly good intent, these folks declared that the principle of anonymity was horse-and-buggy stuff, something appropriate to A.A.’s pioneering days. They were sure that A.A. could go faster and farther if it availed itself of modern publicity methods. A.A., they pointed out, included many persons of local, national, or international fame. Provided they were willing— and many were— why shouldn’t their membership be publicized, thereby encouraging others to join us? These were plausible arguments, but happily our friends of the writing profession disagreed with them.

The good old horse-and-buggy days: then you lived until you died and not until you were just run over.” Will Rogers

Well if my fame will help the next suffer go right ahead and use my name, so now I can be of service while gaining more fame

Andy Warhol made fame more famous. Fran Lebowitz

Nobody wants their fifteen minutes of fame, it’s like “man bites dog” now that’s news we can use.

The Foundation* wrote letters to practically every news outlet in North America, setting forth our public relations policy of attraction rather than promotion, and emphasizing Since that time, editors and rewrite men have repeatedly deleted names and pictures of members from A.A. copy; frequently, they have reminded ambitious individuals of A.A.’s anonymity policy. They have even sacrificed good stories to this end. The force of their cooperation has certainly helped. Only a few A.A. members are left who deliberately break anonymity at the public level.

I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter

And make it known it came from all of us

I’m gonna write words oh so sweet

That nobody needs to be seen or take any heat

They’re gonna knock me off my feet

A lotta kisses on the bottom and that the names are also

Forgotten, I’ll be glad never to have got ’em.


Published: May 6, 2011

I’M David Colman, and I’m an alcoholic.

In the 15 years since I quit drinking, I’ve neither spoken nor written those words, and now, in doing so, I have more or less violated the first-name-only tenet of Alcoholics Anonymous, the grass-roots organization whose meetings have helped me (and millions of others) quit drinking. As A.A.’s Th Tradition states, We need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films. (“I think it’s extremely healthy that anonymity is fading,” said Clancy Martin, a professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Mr. Martin broke his anonymity in a 9,000-word essay he wrote in the January issue of Harper’s Magazine)

As for me I am nothing special , so the best I could do is refer you back to the source, the co-founder of what today is known as A. and A, Robert Holbrook Smith, Anonymously known as Dr. Bob.

Dr. Bob had the handle on the candle when it came to the shadowy room of anonymity with the bright light of humility.

“Perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, irritable or sore; to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. “It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and pray to my Father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble.”

[Dr. Bob] said there were two ways to break the Anonymity Tradition: (1) by giving your name at the public level of press or radio; (2) by being so anonymous that you can’t be reached by other drunks. – Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, page 264

This, in brief, is the process by which A.A.’s Tradition even was constructed. To us, however, it represents far ore than a sound public relations policy. It is more thandenial of self-seeking. This Tradition is a constant and practical reminder that personal ambition has no place in A.A. n it, each member becomes an active guardian of our Fellowship.

Do not let your ambitions become a sanctuary for your failures. Bryant H. McGill

All ambitions are lawful except those which climb upward on the miseries or credulities of mankind. Joseph Conrad

It’s all for one and one for all, we find humility by not standing out or vying for attention when we share the collective voice, for we are  no longer running the show, we must concede to the needs of the fellowship in the form of an informed group conscious in so doing  we acknowledge Gods hand in all things.

See you on the radio



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Our mission is to inform, inspire, and empower alcoholics anonymous sponsorship locally and internationally to be their very best --- both personally and spiritually.

I would like to acknowledge Hamilton B and his tireless work in the recovery community and his work "Twelve Step Sponsorship How it works" a Hazelton publication and his permission to use what ever was needed to make possible my ongoing sponsorship workshop and Step study and this website.