Where will you Petal if Forward? On a busy street corner near your shop at rush hour. At a local hospital when visiting hours begin. In the middle of a popular outdoor lunch area at noon. Where will you hold your Petal It Forward event? What time of day will you have the most impact giving two bouquets of flowers to each passerby?
“The location options are almost unlimited, and there’s no bad place to share a message of cheer and kindness,” said Jennifer Sparks, SAF’s vice president of marketing. “Still, it’s worth thinking strategically about who you’d like to reach on Oct. 24, and where and when they’re likely to be out and about.”
Ten employees and volunteers from Casa Flora Flower Shop in Longview, Texas, chose to go all out last year, giving away 200 bouquets at multiple locations throughout the day. Between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., Casa Flora’s happiness ambassadors in teams of two to three gave away mixed bouquets to people at city hall, the police station, the courthouse, banks, the mall, hospital waiting rooms, restaurants, drug stores and other businesses.
“We chose places we thought would be high-traffic areas with diverse people, said Vickie Slover, Casa Flora’s owner. “We handed out flowers to construction workers, bankers, attorneys, people having lunch, picking up their mail or prescriptions, from senior citizens to toddlers. We shared flowers with mall walkers and bicycle riders.”
That’s a lot of eyes who read Casa Flora-branded Petal It Forward tags with this message: “Flowers make people happy. Spread the joy and share with us at #petalitforward.” And judging by the number and variety of positive responses they received, for weeks afterward, the campaign was a resounding success, however you measure.
“We made local news at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.,” Slover said. “Social media postings of photos and videos were uploaded throughout the day.” But the team felt rich in another currency as well — smiles, hugs and shock. “You could feel the love and kindness from our community,” she said. Only one person refused bouquets because he couldn’t believe they didn’t want money, or there wasn’t another catch.
Just in case, Casa Flora checked with the mayor’s office, business owners and property management, but no permits were required in their case, Slover said. “We were welcomed by everyone.” This year, Slover said Casa Flora will have even more volunteers because several asked if they could join the effort, so the shop plans to hand out a greater, but as of yet undetermined, number of bouquets.
“If you don’t have enough hands on deck to cover as much ground as Casa Flora, can’t spend as much time, or give out as many bouquets, that’s okay. Tailor your event to one high-density area over a one- or two-hour block,” Sparks recommended.
Beth Clarkson of Checkerberry’s Flowers & Gifts in Coos Bay, Oregon, said she “got on the bandwagon a little late” last year, and still managed to hand out single-wrapped carnations with the Petal It Forward message and the shop’s ladybug emblem at the local post office, visitors center and a coffee shop. “In hindsight, the locations were good,” Clarkson said, adding that she would return to the same spots again this year.
For the 2018 Petal It Forward, Clarkson plans to notify the media in advance where they’ll hand out flowers mid-morning and again in the afternoon. She also may partner with another business to “double our flower presence,” and possibly share the cost, she said.
Other locations to consider: schools, walking paths, community centers, gyms, senior centers, assisted living residences, farmers markets, veterans centers, parks, bus and train stations, popular shopping areas, salons, practice fields, outside buildings with several doctors’ offices, downtown venues, and any public gathering space.
The main goal of Petal It Forward is to generate traditional and social media coverage to highlight the benefits of flower power — the positive impact flowers have on our emotional well being — even beyond the actual recipients of the flowers, Sparks said.
Through SAF-generated and local member public relations and social media efforts, the 2017 Petal It Forward campaign generated nearly 82 million impressions.
“We want even more coverage of flower power this year!” Sparks said. “In order to capture the media’s attention and garner news stories about Petal It Forward both locally and nationally, SAF needs to know where events are happening.”
SAF is compiling a list of participating florists holding events on October 24 to share with the media. Sparks encourages members to fill out the participation form at safnow.org/pifform once they know they’re holding an October 24 Petal It Forward event.
“With your help, Petal It Forward can capture even more media attention nationwide,” Sparks said.
Get ready now to Petal It Forward. SAF provides members with advice on program logistics, as well as easy-to-implement materials such as a Flower Card Template, a sample Media Advisory and a sample Press Release at safnow.org/petalitforward.