For Valerie Lee Ow, participating in the Society of American Florists’ Petal It Forward event last year was a feel-good effort for customers — and for her own staff. The co-owner of J. Miller Flowers in Gifts in Oakland, California, said that the happiness generated by the effort extended to everyone involved, especially her team who prepped the bouquets and handed them out.
For Petal It Forward 2016, Ow and her daughter, Jacqueline, gave bouquets to the Piedmont Police Department, Children’s Hospital Oakland, and to passersby near the Bay Bridge, at Embarcadero and various other sites and posted photos of the recipients on social media.
Ow is among the 48 (and counting) suppliers, growers, wholesalers, and retailers in 28 states and Canada, preparing to participate in the Society of American Florists’ Petal It Forward 2017 on Oct. 11. This year marks the third year for SAF’s Petal It Forward. Read more.
“It’s a ‘random acts of kindness’ type of flower giveaway, where consumers on the street receive two flower bouquets or flowers — one to keep and one to share — to demonstrate the Rutgers University research that shows flowers make people happy,” said SAF Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Sparks. “Recipients are asked to post a photo with flowers on social media with the hashtag #petalitforward — to spread the message about flower power.”
Ow encourages florists to hold their own local Petal It Forward events on Oct. 11, 2017, because it helps the entire industry when consumers experience the positive aspects of both giving and receiving flowers. “People were so touched and genuinely astonished that the two bouquets were simply a gift — one to keep and one to share with someone else — what a beautiful and generous program,” Ow said.
What did Ow learn from Petal It Forward 2016? Don’t be afraid to ask others to help, from talking to growers about product donations and asking students and friends to help assemble bouquets or print Petal It Forward labels so recipients know where the flowers came from.
To spread the cheer even more this year, Ow plans to invite her own students and garden club members to help hand out Petal It Forward bouquets. “Giving away flowers makes such a ‘feel good’ story that TV news and local papers will love it, so let them know you’re participating as soon as you can,” Ow said.
SAF provides members with Petal It Forward step-by-step advice and materials — including templates for flower cards and T-shirts and a customizable press release —at safnow.org/petalitforward.
Sparks said florists who plan to hold an event on Oct. 11 should fill out the online participation form safnow.org/pifform, so SAF can track how many florists are participating and share that information with the media.
“With your help, Petal It Forward can happen in all 50 states again,” said Sparks, “which could help capture even more media attention.” The 2016 campaign included 262 events in 234 cities in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, generating more 328 million consumer impressions showcasing the positive impact flowers have on emotional well-being.