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.”
When I hear people discuss the concept of “attraction rather than promotion” in meetings, it usually doesn’t have to do with the tradition it comes from. People talk about these words in relation to how we try to give AA to people we know who need it. We’re told to tell our own personal story, to tell how the program changed and saved our own life, what it all means to us, instead of telling others why we think they need it, how we know it could help them. I’m supposed to live my life, and share my life, in a way that makes a struggling alcoholic want what I have.
Hard and sad experience has shown that there really is no other way, and that often even that way isn’t sufficient. But so many of us balk at a promoter. A hard sell is certainly not the way to spread the good news.
The history of the tradition is written about in the AA literature. In the early days, some people became AA spokespeople and all kinds of bad things happened as a result of that. I honestly admire the way Bill W tried to not take over and stay in charge. I see how someone from the past could have derailed or ruined AA from personal association.
Today, it seems to me like it’s celebrities who threaten AA with breaks in anonymity. Not that AA would or could be ruined by any of them, but that they can make a bad impression, especially when they slip and slide or engage in psychobabble on talk shows. That is not AA. I also disapprove (I almost wrote resent) the fact that they break this tradition in that way. There are famous folks who are well-known members of AA, not because they say they are members, but because it is known. There’s no helping that, and that’s different.
As for the day-to-day attraction of real people in real life, there are several on my prayer list, and I keep hoping that AA will be attractive enough to them before it’s too late.