Public outreach is Step 12 in action ‘Carrying the message’ to those in need.
Public Outreach informs the general public through the media, professionals, facilities, and organisations about who we are, what we do, and how to get in touch with us. Our goal is to attract to our program those whose lives are or have been affected by someone else’s drinking, so that those who need our program can find the help and hope we offer. We also strive for name recognition and credibility as a community resource.
Any member of AFG can do public outreach and working with a Group or Area Public Outreach person is helpful if you want to co-ordinate your plans and work together to be more effective.
“If…Al-Anon groups do not let the public know of our presence, perhaps by announcing the time and place of meetings in local newspapers or by some other means, we block ourselves off from those in need.” Lois Wilson (From “Lois Remembers” B7, page 194)
How do we do this effectively?
We are lucky to have 60 plus years of experience, strength and hope in the AFG programme to look to for help, ideas and inspiration.
A great place to start is by reading the service manual (PN24/27) and utilising a free downloadable booklet called “The Best of Public Outreach” (P90).
You can read this online or download it for free. It is written for use in America yet most of the ideas and principles are applicable, or can be adapted for use in New Zealand.
Also, the New Zealand Handbook (PN27) and the guidelines found in the KN17 and the Media Kit are all helpful resources for PO. A Service Sponsor and an experienced member who has already worked in PO can also be great resources for experience and ideas.
One of the most important PO actions any member can do, is to make sure the meeting details and phone number for your group or area which is displayed on this website is correct.
In New Zealand we have a range of PO tools available for free on our website. These poster files have been created in different files sizes and shapes (landscape, portrait, A4 etc.…) so that they can be used for large outdoor banners and used for small advertisements in the classified of your local newspaper. The image used is the road sign (adapted from WSO with their approval).
Importantly both WSO and the NZ Conference have officially approved these poster files. By using this image consistently across all media throughout the country we maximise impact and create name recognition and credibility for Al-Anon Family Groups in NZ and we work in unity (Tradition 1) with each other. For example: if a newcomer sees an AFG PO billboard in Christchurch, then they see the same image on our website, and they go looking for a meeting six months later in Napier, they are more likely to find us as each Area is using the same image in local public outreach, online and perhaps using similar looking meeting signs.
The files themselves can also be adapted for use in your area by adding local phone numbers etc.
There is also a range of Public Service Announcements (or PSAs) that can be used for Outreach. They can be shown on a screen at health fairs or conventions, shown on a screen (for example in a bank), or the script itself can be used for radio.
There are press releases written for use in the NZ media. Please ask your local Area Delegate for the current press release. This can be adapted for local use and supplied to your local media to help support or prompt an article.
Think about what could be a newsworthy angle? Is your group moving to new premises? This could be a chance to talk about AFG in the local community news, is a Convention in your town? This is another opportunity to carry the message of hope. Is your group 5, 10 or 20 years old? Are you hosting an open meeting? Has a new group opened? These are all great opportunities to carry the message via the media. The P90 has other great ideas to help you.
When working with the press they often want a photo to accompany their article. With AFG being anonymous this can often pose problems for members. There is always a solution if you think outside the square: You can take a photo of backs of heads, hands holding literature, or a book in front of the face of a member. Remember to look for a solution rather than focus on the problem. Call your Area PO or Area Delegate for help and ideas.
Key things to remember:
Any member with knowledge of the steps and traditions can do Public Outreach.
When talking to the media or simply handing out flyers you don’t have to break your own anonymity. For example – I can hand out flyers or put up posters for the SPCA but that doesn’t make me a puppy in need of a home and neither does it make me a SPCA employee. I’m simply a volunteer helping a not-for-profit.
Try to use the full name Al-Anon Family Groups. This gives the public more information about who we are and helps us not to be confused with AA. If you want to abbreviate our name, use AFG not Al-Anon (this is jargon).
Try to keep it simple and refrain from using AFG jargon or acronyms when taking to the public.
You can be in a photo, just obscure your face and any other identifying things about you, such as jewellery etc.
You can use a pseudonym in an interview in the press or on radio.
Try to align your local PO with national PO where possible.
Co-operate with AA wherever possible, as they are our biggest referral source and they are very adept at carrying the AFG message of hope to loved ones.
Reaching out to the media in your community need not be complicated or time consuming. Work with other members, Area Public Outreach Coordinators, or a local PO committee. We need never do anything alone in Al-Anon!
Service Tools and Resources:
– The Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual (P24/27)
– Your Group and Area Public Outreach Coordinators
– The Area Public Outreach Guideline (G38)
– Use the ideas in ‘The Best of Public Outreach’ (P90) – see link above
– The PO guidelines within the NZ Al-Anon Service Guidelines (KN17)
– Attracting and Co-operating (S40)
– Members interested in Speaking (G1)
– Outreach to the public/media (G10)
– Outreach to professionals (G29)
– The New Zealand Handbook (PN27)
– The NZ AFG General Service Office – they often have flyers and posters available for sale so you don’t have to make or print them yourself.