Purpose
Public information events are excellent ways of informing the public about the
Overeaters Anonymous (OA) program of recovery.

Types of public information events
Newcomers nights: These are usually open OA meetings whose formats may vary to meet
the needs of a particular audience. They commonly feature speakers and a question and-answer period. OA literature is provided as handouts if possible. The focus is on
people new to or interested in Overeaters Anonymous, whether potential members or
not.

Young Persons’ events: Schools (colleges and universities) are the usual settings for these
events, whether as an intimate classroom talk or in an assembly. They commonly
feature two or more speakers and follow a format similar to that of a newcomers
night, above. Another way to reach young people and teenagers is to participate in
a school health fair. Many intergroups have display booths that can be used for this
purpose. For information about participating in a health fair, see the Guidelines for
Health Fair Participation.

Presentations to Employee Assistance Program (EAP) staff: EAPs are counseling centers
that some large companies employ to help workers deal with personal problems in
a confidential setting. Staff members and/or counselors are often quite receptive to
learning how OA can help their clients.

Other types of PI events: There are also many other settings for public information
outreach. For more information about the above or other types of Public Information
and Professional Outreach events, refer to the Public Information Manual and the
Professional Outreach Manual.

When to hold public information events
Anytime is a good time!

Strategic times:

  • Before holidays
  • After New Year’s
  • Early spring

We also recommend holding events on OA related days:

  • OA’s birthday (third Saturday in January)
  • Unity Day (last Saturday in February)
  • IDEA day (third Saturday in November)
  • Twelfth-Step Within Day (December 12)

Preparation and planning (about three to four months prior)

  • Form a committee and choose a chairperson.
  • Encourage participation within your intergroup by enumerating specific tasks and
    the time commitment needed to accomplish them.
  • Determine your budget. Keep in mind that the purpose of PI events is to get
    information out to the community, not to make money. Things such as suggested
    donations or raffles should be saved for retreats and conventions. If your
    intergroup does not have the funds to put on an event on its own, contact your
    region. Some regions will provide funding for PI events.
  • Select a site. If your event will be in a school or institution, make sure the
    arrangements are made with the proper authorities. The site should be easily
    accessible, with well-lit parking. Besides schools and hospitals, libraries and
    churches are usually good locations.
  • Decide on format. The format will determine your needs. You will need to
    consider:

    • How many will attend?
    • Will you have one or more speakers? A panel? (Microphones, a podium, table.)
    • Will there be a Q and A session? (Paper, pencils)
    • What special interests does the audience have? (Specific literature, topics)
  • Inspect the site and ask questions. Tell the facility’s manager what you’ll need and
    find out what’s available. Questions to ask:

    • Are there any fees?
    • What about parking?
    • What is the maximum legal occupancy of the room?
    • Will someone from the facility be there the day or night of the event? If so, is
      there an additional fee, such as for janitorial staff to close the facility?

Materials (about two to three months prior)

  • Order the literature and other materials (videos, etc.) you may need: We suggest
    that only OA Conference- and Board-approved literature be used. Be sure to bring
    along local meeting directories that clearly list phone numbers of meeting contacts,
    the oa.org website, and your intergroup’s website if you have one. Remember: The
    Internet is one of our most important public information resources. Newcomers
    who do not approach you at the event may wish to find out more about OA after
    the event. You may wish to bring along wallet cards with your local intergroup’s
    number and website address.
  • Suggested literature for newcomers nights:
    About OA
    A Program of Recovery
    Fifteen Questions
    Many Symptoms, One Solution
    To the Newcomer
    To the Teen (pamphlet)
    OA Members Come in All Sizes
    To the Family of the Compulsive Overeater
  • Suggested literature for young persons and teens events:
    To the Teen
    Many Symptoms, One Solution
    OA Members Come in All Sizes
    To the Family of the Compulsive Eater (for parents and teachers)
    To Parents and Concerned Adults
    Young Persons’s Packet
    Anorexic/Bulimic Packet
    Lists of young person’s meetings and contact phone numbers if possible
  • In addition, you might include:
    Back issues of Lifeline (available from the WSO)
    The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous
    Lifeline Sampler
    Overeaters Anonymous, Third Edition (the Brown Book)
    OA catalogs
    Other specialized pamphlets, depending on your audience
  • Suggested literature for professionals:
    Introducing OA to Health Care Professionals
    Treatment and Beyond
    Courier newsletter
    Back issues of Lifeline (Suggest a subscription for their waiting rooms.)

Speakers (about two to three months prior)
Speakers should be chosen carefully; they’ll be representing the OA program and
should demonstrate recovery on all three levels: emotional, spiritual and physical. You
may wish to have abstinence requirements. It is highly recommended that speakers
have at least one year of current abstinence and are maintaining a healthy body weight.
Look for members who have suffered from different symptoms of the disease.

Speaking to young people and teens: Two speakers are preferred, since two stories
provide more diversity. Two people can also answer questions more effectively. Each
should share for fifteen minutes. Speakers should be the same age or just slightly older
than those in the audience; one might be a bulimic. They should focus on their
teenage or younger years, and share personal problems and health risks of compulsive
overeating. Please note that anyone having contact with children in a school setting
might need to be reviewed with the administration of any school where an OA PI
event might be planned.

Speaking to Employee Assistance Program professionals: In the spirit of cooperation, not
affiliation, tell them how helpful OA can be for their clients who struggle with eating
disorders to stress that we are not in competition with them, but an outside source of
help.

To find more detailed information on doing presentations to schools, professionals
or other special groups, see the Public Information Manual and the Professional Outreach
Manual.

Publicity (about two months prior)
Prepare 8 1/2-by-11-inch flyers: Make these in time to be distributed four to six weeks
prior to the event. They should contain the event title; the sponsoring intergroup’s
name; event location, date, and time; and contact phone number (no names). Flyers
should make it clear that it’s an event for the general public and not just for OA
members. Suggested distribution sites: public health clinics, student health centers,
exercise clubs, Y’s, Twelve-Step bookstores, doctors’ and professional offices (obtain
permission first), OA meetings. Provide plenty of extra flyers for OA meetings, and
urge members to take a few and post them on bulletin boards at their grocery store,
laundromat, church, school, etc.

Get the word out to the community: Contact radio and TV stations and ask them to run
public service announcements. Tell them OA is a nonprofit organization. Make
sure the PSAs include a local contact phone number. Also: local, regional, senior,
school and free newspapers often have calendars of community events; send them
announcements. (For sample PSA scripts and press releases, see the Public Information
Service Manual; to purchase the PSAs, contact the World Service Office.) Consider
free advertising on online local classified ad sites. These sites often have community
events/meeting announcements sections. Even if they don’t, you can still create an
ad inviting people to a Public Information Meeting or to just make contact for more
information about OA.

Inform the Fellowship: Announce the event at all OA meetings, telling members of the
planned content. Ask them to attend and bring a non-OA guest. List tasks for which
volunteers are needed and provide a contact name and number to call if interested
in helping.

Final preparations (about one month prior)
Get firm commitments from volunteers and assign duties. Areas of service include:

  • Registration table
  • Literature
  • Cleanup
  • Door greeting
  • Making and distributing ID badges
  • Writing flyers
  • Distributing flyers
  • Decorating if necessary
  • Making signs to direct participants to the right room

Call all volunteers and remind them of their commitments.

Checklist for one week prior to event:

  • Call all volunteers again to verify their participation.
  • Make sure the facility is ready for you.
  • Give a flyer to the person answering the phone at the facility.

On the day
Arrive at least an hour before the event starts. You will need to:

  • Set up the meeting room
  • Coordinate volunteers
  • Check the literature
  • Check the registration table
  • Check the refreshment tables

Follow-up

  • Have a post-event meeting: Evaluate what happened and make recommendations
    for the future.
  • Send thank-you notes to those outside OA who helped, such as radio, TV, and
    facility personnel.
  • Retrieve recorded PSAs, if any, from TV and radio stations.

For more information on putting together Public Information/Newcomers Nights,
consult the Public Information Service Manual and the Professional Outreach Manual.