Amidst the busiest stretch of the year, professionals from all segments of the floral industry made time to talk to the media — scoring quality promotion for their individual businesses and keeping flowers top of mind with millions of consumers around the country.
They touched on a variety of topics including the preparation and manpower behind the holiday, roses’ symbolism, creative design options, the impact of shopping locally and the emotional impact of flowers. Collectively, they depicted the passion that accompanies working with flowers and the joy people experience upon receiving them.
“Media coverage is one of the best sources of promotion for a local business because it puts your business in the context of everyday news, and those who take the time to be a resource to reporters will benefit,” says Jennifer Sparks, the Society of American Florists’ vice president of marketing. “Advertising is important, but you can’t beat the third-party credibility of good PR, so it should be part of your overall marketing mix.”
Here are just a few examples of this year’s Valentine’s coverage:
The local NBC affiliate in Memphis, Tennessee visited Pugh Flower Shop the morning of February 14, showing viewers the “army of workers” collaborating to deliver more than 25,000 roses for the holiday. Earlier that month, Sales, Marketing and Digital Communications Manager Debbie Crawford McCown sent a press release to morning anchors at three news stations, along with a bouquet of flowers. In the release, she touted Pugh’s longevity as a local business (40 years), discussed the history of Valentine’s Day and red roses’ role in the holiday, referenced the Rutgers University research proving the mood-enhancing effect of flowers and invited the reporters to tour company headquarters or join a driver making deliveries.
Expressions Unlimited in Greenville, South Carolina, received similar coverage from their local NBC station, except on February 13. “We emphasized that they should come in a day or two early to see all the pretty things we had in the store, while we were prepping for Valentine’s Day,” said Operations Manager Staci Bryant. “Plus, we wanted to get a push out before the holiday!” Shop employees reviewed SAF’s tips for working with the media and used the opportunity to highlight the benefits of buying flowers from a professional florist and red rose alternatives to delight recipients.
Philadelphia florists Stein Your Florist and Plaza Flowers appeared on the local news (CBS3 and WPHL-TV, respectively). In the CBS segment, correspondent Trang Do interviewed a customer who arrived at 6 a.m. to pick up arrangements to surprise his fiancée and daughter before they woke up. (One of his picks: multi-colored roses. Owner Patrick Kelly explained briefly how growers create the kaleidoscopic effect.)
From 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Monday, February 12, Maris Angolia, AAF, and her team at Karin’s Florist in Vienna, Virginia hosted Kidd O’Shea, an entertainment reporter with ABC 7 in Washington, D.C. Kidd tried his hand processing and arranging flowers and accompanied a driver to capture the ebullient expressions of people receiving their Valentine’s gifts.
Angolia, the company’s president, encouraged customers to ask florists for their expert recommendations, while General Manager David Shover, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, offered care and handling advice and Creative Director Bryan Swann talked about flowers’ “feel good” power.
In preparation, Angolia called SAF Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Sparks to discuss potential hot topics and to finesse talking points. “I always call Jenni when I know I have an interview coming up,” she said. That practice paid off when a camera crew from Fox 5 showed up at 7 a.m. the morning of Valentine’s Day. “We’d run through potential questions so much, we all knew what to do,” she said. Between the two stations, footage from Karin’s appeared on television about every half hour throughout the holiday.
An Illustration of Globalization
A trio of high-profile news organizations traced the typical Valentine’s Day rose’s journey from South America to recipients’ homes.
NBC News’ Left Field traveled to Colombia to speak with a handful of flower farmers. These growers shared how the floral industry had improved the quality of life in Colombia, from curbing the illegal drug business to empowering women through employment. The reporter also spoke with flower inspectors, cargo companies and truck drivers. “The rose isn’t just a expression of love,” he concluded in his segment. “It’s a symbol of globalization. Demand for a product in one country generates whole industries, technologies, processes and employment in another.”
The New York Times spoke with Starbright Floral Design’s Stephen Faitos about the “feat of logistics” that get roses from the mountains of Ecuador to the New York City shop.
Senior partner Nic Faitos received an inquiry call from The Times the morning of February 8 and immediately turned to SAF’s Sparks for advice. After the story ran on the 14th, he sent the report a thank you note — his protocol whenever he receives press.
“We also let them know that they should always feel free to use us as a resource in the future,” he said. “Make it easy to access you and make them look good by helping them write great stories!”
Economic Impact of Buying Local
About a week before the holiday, Chad Freytag of Freytag’s Florist in Austin was interviewed by a local CBS affiliate alongside Debbie Woltmann, president of the Texas State Florists’ Association. During the interview, the two talked about the importance of local florists — and the challenge of national companies posing as local florists — and Freytag, also the legislative chair of TSFA, talked about his own deep ties to the community.
“It’s a true family business,” he said, adding that “pleasing the customer” is always his No. 1 goal.
Following an exceptionally trying few months with back-to-back natural disasters in his community, Joost Bongaerts, CEO of Florabundance, a wholesale company in Carpinteria, California reached out to KEYT-TV, suggesting a story about how Valentine’s sales could help local florists who lost significant business when the Thomas fire and subsequent mudslides devastated the area and forced them to close for 27 days.
The reporter visited one of Bongaerts’s customers, Hogue and Company in nearby Montecito. Owners Kristi Meland and Jerry Peddicord expressed their gratitude for their community’s support to help them get back on their feet. She then went to Florabundance and spoke with Bongaerts, who urged viewers to support local florists.
“These people lost 70 percent of their revenue in the month of December and then we got the mudslides on top of that,” he said. “Then there was another mandatory evacuation and closing so it’s been rough on the local community.”
However, he added, business disruptions pale in comparison to others’ suffering:
“We haven’t lost life or property, so that is important.”
Score great press that you want to share? We want to hear about it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to feel more prepared for interviews or improve your outreach efforts for Mother’s Day. SAF has you covered. Check out our PR Boot Camp for tips, advice and best practices.