Airing the Message


Public Service Announcements reach many…

Excerpts from Spring Edition of BOX 459,
the Quarterly Newsletter of General Service Office of A.A

…PSAs that are made for the public are very carefully produced in the spirit of attraction rather than promotion. Everyday words spoken by regular people (in many cases portrayed by professional actors) make the process of identification easier for the prospect as he or she listens in the privacy of a living or work space, on a car radio, or on earphones just about anywhere. Since our experience shows that most alcoholics rarely talk about their drinking problems, PSAs, like A.A. literature, are a way of reaching those who are isolated and isolating from their families and communities. They are a non-invasive and effective way for problem drinkers to learn that they are not alone.

…Putting PSAs out into the public arena has its challenges. There are a host of nonprofit organizations who create PSAs for their own purposes and getting them aired is very competitive. A.A. Public Information Committees throughout North America regularly contact local broadcasters to offer PSAs to their stations. The creation of A.A.’s download page has certainly made the final process easier, but getting the PSA physically on the air is where the challenge lies. Teddy W. has found it easier when district committees have some crossover with the professional community, like a personal contact at the station. (“It’s who you know.”) When that connection is not there, A.A.’s PSA requests often land in a stack along with countless others. As luck or providence would have it, there is sometimes a recovering alcoholic working at the broadcast site who may be able to help nudge A.A.’s request toward the top of the pile, but doing that without breaking anonymity requires great resourcefulness and delicacy. However, persistence, tact, the desire to help, and trust in the greater good continue to bring about positive results.
Most published PSAs are developed by G.S.O. and all are approved by the General Service Conference prior to distribution. If a member, group, or area has an idea for a PSA, they should send that idea to the Public Information assignment at G.S.O., something Clay R. welcomes enthusiastically: “We are always looking for new ideas… and if a group or community would like to create a PSA for local use, they are free to do so… and while G.S.O. stands ready to share A.A. experience with local committees, their group conscience can determine the type and content of a local PSA.” The General Service Board’s policy of not showing an actor’s full face is used for G.S.O.’s videos and many local entities follow this guidance, too. The only other guidelines are those contained in the Steps and Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous and G.S.O.’s mission to share consistent and accurate information on A.A.

For more, see this, and past, issues available at:


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