Davonna Lowry still isn’t sure how the media ended up covering her shop’s participation in the Society of American Florists’ 2019 Petal It Forward event, but amid the pouring rain a cameraman captured the floral giveaway. Later another station called, interested in the story.
“We called the stations, but we couldn’t get anyone to come out,” says Lowry, owner of Flowers by Zach-Low in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Then someone, or maybe it was more than one person who got flowers or walked by, must have seen what we were doing and called and told them, because they showed up asking us why we were handing out flowers for free.”
This year, Lowry isn’t leaving it to chance. With a plan in place that hits on themes important to her community, she’s going to send press releases that give the media a reason to put her store’s efforts on the daily budget of news stories.
“Now we have so much more to tell the media and so much more show,” she says.
Successfully pitching the story of Petal It Forward to the local media requires a few steps that any floral professional can take, including sending press releases, utilizing social media and knowing the talking points.
Send flowers and a note
Like Lowry, Annie Venable of Leona Sue’s Florist, Inc. in Scott, Louisiana has learned that her pitch to the local media needs to stand out from the rest of the messages sent to the media’s general email or voicemail inbox.
“Calling them didn’t work,” Venable says. “Emailing the ‘info@’ account doesn’t get their attention fast enough. We reach out to anchors themselves. It really gets their attention.”
Sending private messages through Facebook to the local television station anchors has proved most successful, Venable says. But she doesn’t stop there. She also sends flowers to the station with a note.
And if the station still doesn’t show up, she floods social media with pictures her staff took.
“Even if the station doesn’t get out here, they will reuse our pictures and make a story by coming out later to interview me,” Venable says.
Tell a story
Knowing the story you want to share not only helps quell nerves before a media interview, but it also ensures the information going out is newsworthy, Venable says.
For Venable that means focusing on SAF’s research that proves flowers have a positive effect on emotional well-being.
“[The media is] going to ask you 50 million questions and use two answers,” she says. “Just answer the questions honestly and remember you are part of a bigger thing. This is a national campaign to get the message out that flowers make people happy.”
The story doesn’t just have to capture the broader message of the campaign. In Albuquerque, Lowry plans on tapping into two current themes in her community: education and downtown businesses.
By working with students from two of the area’s high schools, Lowry wants to focus on the need to support education. The high schools offer vocational and entrepreneurial programs that Lowry supports.
She is also using the event to address the ongoing effects of pandemic.
“Most of our downtown has not come back to work,” Lowry says. “If we pitch Petal It Forward as coming out of the pandemic and moving past this state of depression and anxiety that we still feel, I think the media will come. It feels just as good to give flowers. That would help boost mood in the city.”
Want to join the 150 floral businesses from 46 states participating in Petal It Forward? Register your business to receive support from SAF for your event.
Sarah Sampson is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.