It’s not just retail florists, growers and wholesalers who participate in Petal It Forward. Suppliers also spread goodwill in their local communities by taking part in the Society of American Florists’ led random-acts-of-kindness flower giveaway – and they’re eager to share advice on how to make the day successful.
Spreading the word early, planning ahead and getting employees involved are key to a successful Petal It Forward event, according to Smithers-Oasis and Syndicate Sales.
Since 2015, SAF has led the industry in Petal It Forward. During this random acts of kindness giveaway, consumers receive two bouquets (or flowers) — one to keep and one to share — to demonstrate university research that shows flowers make people happy, and they are encouraged to post on social media about their experience giving and receiving flowers with the hashtag #petalitforward.
This year’s Petal It Forward date is set for Wednesday, Oct. 23, and it marks the fourth year that Smithers-Oasis will participate. The Kent, Ohio, floral supply company contributes by donating flower food packets to customers and by purchasing 200 bouquets from a local wholesaler to hand out on the college town’s streets.
Kelly Mace, marketing programs and communications manager for Smithers-Oasis, said that they strive to give all employees an opportunity to help hand out Petal It Forward bouquets. “We try to get areas other than marketing involved. So, there may be people from financial services and people from the plant,” said Mace, who also uses the event to connect with the community.
“A lot of people in town may not know what Smithers-Oasis does — so we add little cards to the bouquets to let them know that it’s sponsored by SAF and Smithers-Oasis. We provide our website address so they can learn about the company and we can build a relationship with them,” said Kelly Mace, marketing programs and communications manager for Smithers-Oasis.
“We contact a local newspaper well ahead of time,” said Mace who also uses social media to generate buzz for their event. The company orders shirts early and draft scripts, too, so that their team is ready. [SAF provides members with a Petal It Forward t-shirt template and talking points.]
Syndicate Sales also prints out its own cards to encourage recipients to #petalitforward and share their experience on social media.
“Make sure to tag your social media posts appropriately so you can get recognition for participation,” advised Melanie Spilbeler, marketing director for Syndicate Sales.
It’s a two-day event for the employees, said Spilbeler. The first day, team members create floral arrangements by filling brightly colored Syndicate Sales vases with fresh flower donations from California grower, Dramm and Echter. The second day, team members hand out the arrangements to random passers-by in downtown Indianapolis and near their headquarters in downtown Kokomo, Indiana. Last year, they gave out 84 arrangements and will double that amount this year.
“Petal It Forward is a great way to provide a fun activity of floral arranging for our team members. We bring in snacks and the team gets to bond while creating the arrangements,” said Spilbeler, adding that the most rewarding part of the experience is handing out the flowers and watching the smiles on people’s faces.
Spilbeler said that Syndicate Sales starts organizing the event in June.
“We are already planning what types of arrangements and vases we will be offering,” she said. “Planning early allows you to have enough time to develop a schedule of activities and enough time to contact local media for coverage to promote your business.”
Syndicate Sales encourages its entire team to play a role, whether it is arranging the bouquets, handing them out or just posting on social media about the event.
“Everyone on the team has a role they can play,” Spilbeler said.
Get ready now to Petal It Forward. SAF provides members with advice on program logistics, as well as easy-to-implement materials and resources at safnow.org/pif.
Renee Houston Zemanski is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.