One Nonprofit Shares Thoughts About Spanish-Language PSAs

As we look to close 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), I thought it helpful to get one nonprofit’s perspective and experience with a Spanish-language public service campaign. Recently I spoke with our client at Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. and asked a few questions:

Annette: What made A.A. undertake a Spanish-language TV PSA?

A.A.: Alcoholics Anonymous makes large policy decisions via a process often referred to as “group conscience.” In matters related to A.A. literature, including A.A. audio/visual material, the group conscience process is used to ensure that our message best reflects the experience of our diverse Fellowship, and will effectively reach the still suffering alcoholic. Since alcoholism appears to be no respecter of race, creed, age, or any other demographic, we strive to make sure the solution we offer is available to a diverse audience. In the United States and Canada (the two countries served by the General Service Office in New York) we produce and distribute A.A. material in English, French and Spanish.

At the 2011 General Service Conference (the “group conscience” for A.A. in the U.S. and Canada) it was recommended that a culturally sensitive Spanish–language Public Service Announcement be developed to better ensure the hand of A.A. is there whenever anyone anywhere reaches out.

Annette: Was any special attention put to make the PSA culturally relevant?

A.A.: The development of our Public Service Announcements is handled by our office staff working on behalf of the Public Information Committee of our General Service Board. Because of the emphasis on having our Spanish-language PSA, “Tengo Esperanza,” be culturally sensitive to the Spanish-speaking population, we sought bids from production companies that had experience with specialized content.

We also assembled an in-house team that included members of the editorial advisory board from La Vina, our Spanish-language magazine, as well as other office staff with an Hispanic background to review early versions of the script. This team worked on the project from concept to final product. It is also important to note that, unlike other PSAs we’ve developed (historically produced in English and then translated to Spanish and French), the script for “Tengo Esperanza” was drafted, edited and revised in Spanish, by a Spanish-speaking team.

Annette: Did you notice any results/success that can be attributed to the PSA?

A.A.: Because our public relations policy is based on “attraction rather than promotion,” Alcoholics Anonymous does not try to convince anyone they should try A.A. Based on our experience as problem drinkers ourselves, we believe that the willingness to recover from a drinking problem must come from within. For this reason, our “call to action” is generally not one that results in measurable conversions in the traditional sense. The goal of our PSA campaigns is not to convince, but to inform alcoholics that if they think they have a drinking problem, we think we have a solution!

One way of measuring the success of a PSA campaign is by the number of airings and audience impressions. When we sought a distributor to help get our new spot out into the world of Spanish-language television, we again approached vendors with a successful track record for similar campaigns. The continuing requests for this spot from local A.A. public information committees that are working with local media outlets, as well as requests directly from televisions stations themselves, suggests the campaign was a successful one.

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