Partnering with other groups, whether within or outside the floral industry, could give your Oct. 23 Petal It Forward event an extra power boost, say florists who’ve participated in the “random acts of kindness” flower giveaway. Now is the time to start making those connections.
Eastern Floral partnered with the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, Hope College and a local radio station, and distributed 1,600 bouquets in Grand Rapids, Holland and Grand Haven, Michigan, for the shop’s Petal It Forward last year.
“I wanted to make it big,” said Kiersten Schulte, director of corporate services and major accounts at Eastern Floral. “And, I thought why not work with the Mental Health Foundation and help promote their ‘Be Nice’ campaign? It goes hand-in-hand with Petal It Forward.” (Be Nice is a program that creates a positive cultural change through simple daily actions.)
Since 2015, SAF has led the industry in Petal It Forward. During this flower giveaway, consumers receive two bouquets (or flowers) — one to keep and one to share — to demonstrate the Rutgers University research that shows flowers make people happy and are encouraged to post on social media about their experience using the hashtag #petalitforward.
Eastern Floral recruited Hope College students to serve as Happiness Ambassadors handing out Petal It Forward flowers on campus. “We had a number of students who wanted to help. It was so nice for them to give and receive flowers since college students don’t always have the budget for that,” said Schulte.
Local station, WOOD TV 8, helped out, too. The station’s morning anchors handed out flowers and provided media coverage.
“It’s always nice to have local celebrities behind the movement,” said Schulte, who added that the shop may hand out even more bouquets this year. “I try to up the ante each year.”
Nicole Palazzo, marketing director at City Line Florist in Trumbull, Connecticut, also went big for the event. The shop, which handed out 1,000 bouquets last year and plans to do so again, partnered with local TV stations, radio stations, their local wholesaler and growers.
“We partner with WEBE 108 and WICC; they do phone interviews the week leading up to and the day of Petal It Forward and they help us hand out flowers,” said Palazzo. “Honestly, there are so many negative stories out there, when people hear about something that is just pure happiness, they want to be part of it. It’s a wonderful feel-good story but it’s also a great marketing tool for our shop.”
Palazzo advised shops to get the word out early on social media. “I start promoting it early on social media, putting the date out there and I make an event on Facebook. People literally start messaging me that they want to be part of it.”
Staff members at York Flowers in Annapolis, Maryland, and Washington D.C., always want to be a part of Petal It Forward so Marketing Director Anna Deriquito switches it up every year so everyone has a chance to participate. The shop handed out 200 bouquets in Annapolis and 250 bouquets in DC last year.
“We all walk away from this feeling happy and proud,” said Deriquito. “We had people come in the store, months later, and tell us they remember us handing out the flowers and it made their day.”
Deriquito also partnered with 107.3 WASH FM to hand out the bouquets in Washington D.C. She advised shops to look for partners who are aligned with their vision and business .
“I found 107.3 when they were doing their ‘107 days of kindness’,” she explained. “Look for companies that are trying to do good in your community.”
SAF provides resources to help members Petal It Forward, including planning timelines, T-shirt and flower card templates and more at safnow.org/petalitforward. Be sure to notify SAF of your event by completing the Petal It Forward Participation Form at safnow.org/PIFform.
Renee Houston Zemanski is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.