Good timing, relationships, reaching out to radio stations and via social media, and reminders are some of the ways floral teams have had success generating local media coverage for their Petal It Forward events. With this year’s event on Oct. 23, now is the time to build a press list, update your media advisory and press release, and plan outreach.
The Society of American Florists provides members with Petal It Forward advice for contacting the media, including advice on how to create a press list, a suggested media outreach timeline, a customizable media advisory and press release, talking points, and more at safnow.org/pif.
Nicole Palazzo of City Line Florist in Trumbull, Connecticut has a rapport with her local media. As a matter of fact, the media asks her to pencil in the date of Petal It Forward so they don’t miss it.
“Now, I’ve built a relationship with them, they love reporting on Petal It Forward. Most of the reporters I spoke with said it’s nice to actually cover a positive story with all the negative and grim news happening in the world,” said Palazzo, who uses the SAF media advisory and press release templates to craft her announcements.
Palazzo does her due diligence, though, visiting the websites of every local news station and sending releases to news reporters as well sending releases to local bloggers, newspapers and radio stations just to remind them of the event.
“I send them to as many reporters as I can because not everyone responds,” she said.
Palazzo said that City Line has an especially good relationship with radio stations. “They really build it up on the radio, send out their radio hosts and even report live during Petal It Forward,” she said.
The trick in pitching media coverage all comes down to the right timing, said most of the florists we talked with. They said they had the best results contacting the media closer to the event – about a week to two weeks out – and then making sure they follow up.
Annie Taylor of Leona Sue’s Florist, Inc. in Scott, Louisiana, does a lot of follow up and uses the phone, email and Facebook to reach her local media.
“Facebook seems to be the best avenue as someone is constantly watching it from the news desk,” said Taylor, who reaches out in advance to the local media, then touches base two days in advance and one day in advance. Someone from the media usually covers it but for the media that doesn’t show up, Taylor sends photos to them during the event to entice them to come and join the fun or simply for them to post on their own social media.
“Even the stations that do not come normally post it on their page,” she said. “We also send the cameraman back to the station with flowers so he can experience giving the flowers. Sometimes the anchors will hand one to each other [on air] as they finish the story.”
Mike Whittle, of K. Mike Whittle Designs in Marietta, Georgia, said it’s a little trickier to obtain media coverage in his area because it’s closer to a big city. “In Atlanta, you really have to know someone to get the coverage,” he said. “We did everything we knew to do, we sent bouquets to the stations and we called.”
His hard work paid off. Even though the media didn’t show up during the event, they interviewed Whittle after it, providing coverage for his shop and sharing the good news.
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.
For more media advice, read Publicity Pointers from Petal It Forward Superstars.
Renee Houston Zemanski is a contributing writer to the Society of American Florists.