Earlier this month, a team of ambassadors representing the Society of American Florists trekked through the Pacific Northwest in a vintage-style van — “The Flower Power Mobile” — offering unsuspecting people free flowers and tips to alleviate stress. Their journey from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon to Seattle spurred a flurry of news stories in the region’s biggest media markets, as journalists clamored to cover not only the visually compelling vehicle and bouquet giveaways, but also the scientific research supporting flowers’ stress-reducing powers.
“We are providing a solution that helps people cope with stress in little ways throughout the day,” SAF’s Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Sparks told Kara Mack, co-host of “Afternoon Live,” a program with KATU, Portland, Oregon’s ABC affiliate channel.
During the live broadcast, Sparks introduced April as Stress Awareness Month, highlighting the affliction’s impact with statistics from Wakefield Research (68 percent of Americans report feeling stressed on a weekly basis; 32 percent endure it every day). “Pretty much everyone can relate to stress,” she said.
Sparks then dove into results from the University of North Florida’s recent research study, “The Impact of Flowers on Perceived Stress Among Women.”
“It’s that contact with nature so many of us crave,” she said. “The really great thing about flowers is that they bring the beauty of nature indoors. Simply having them on your desk or nightstand can significantly improve your wellbeing.”
KGW, Portland’s NBC affiliate, sent two anchors to Pioneer Courthouse Square, a 40,000-square-foot block in the city’s center, to help SAF distribute flowers on a cold and drizzly Friday.
Their commentary noted recipients’ joyful and relaxed reactions when handed a bouquet. KOMO News 4, Seattle’s ABC station, captured similar footage (minus the rain). “It totally works,” anchor Molly Chen said of flower power.
The tour’s start at the iconic corner of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, where Flower Power first began, also spurred media buzz.
Prior to embarking on the StressLess tour, SAF sent a press release to news organizations nationwide. SAF followed up with nationwide media blast after the San Francisco events with pictures and video footage to carry the flower power message far beyond the three cities visited during the tour. (SAF is still compiling results of the comprehensive public relations efforts and social media tactics; stay tuned for future coverage on the program’s overall reach.)
For news hooks, SAF referenced Stress Awareness Month, the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and rise of the Flower Power Movement, as well as a few examples of April’s stress-inducing events, including Tax Day and colleges mailing acceptance and rejection letters. The release also included takeaways from the University of North Florida study.
While stress reduction is an evergreen topic, “Stress Awareness Month makes journalists especially receptive to covering the research results,” Sparks said. “This is a great opportunity for SAF members to get some local publicity, which is essentially free advertising. Plus, any time your business appears in the press, it increases your credibility.”
Offer to be interviewed about the UNF study’s findings, either in your shop or at the station (hint: bring flowers if you go off-site). In addition to talking about the research findings, you can offer anecdotes of what you and your delivery drivers see on a daily basis when people receive flowers. You could even go a step further by offering an exclusive opportunity to your favorite reporter to ride along in your van to surprise strangers with flowers to help them “stress less.” The journalist’s first-hand experience will make for a better story.
For more pointers, study the above links in this story for examples of talking points, as well as questions to anticipate and how to bridge to the most compelling messages.
For more promotional ideas for Stress Awareness Month, click here.
All of SAF’s consumer marketing programs to create positive perceptions of flowers are made possible by the generous supporters of the SAF PR Fund. Read more about the PR Fund and who supports it here.
Katie Hendrick Vincent is the senior contributing editor of the Society of American Florists.