Wednesday, Oct. 19 is the date of this year’s Petal It Forward, the Society of American Florists' international goodwill initiative, where on one day thousands of floral industry participants hand two flowers or bouquets to an unsuspecting stranger, urging them to keep one and share the other with someone else.
1. Unadulterated joy
Petal It Forward aims to show people that it’s a pleasure to receive flowers — but it’s even more fulfilling to give them. The more the public experiences this, the more consumers recognize that flowers make thoughtful, emotional and memorable gifts. But it’s not just customers who can benefit from witnessing the life-changing, mood-altering effects flowers can have. Veteran participants have countless anecdotes of smiles, tears, hugs and poignant stories — memories that remind them why they’re in this business.
2. Celebrate your business and community
Petal It Forward is a highly visible event that can do wonders for your business reputation. Where do you want to hand out flowers? Many participants choose a busy pedestrian area and pass out bouquets to people at random. Others pick a particular venue to surprise a specific demographic, such as a nursing or retirement home, daycare center, healthcare facility, or school campus. Choose a location in advance to determine if you need any special permitting.
Seeking help outside of your staff? Ask friends, family, and other community members to save the date and serve as “happiness ambassadors.” Are other SAF members in your area participating? Can you to join forces? Is there another group that might make a great partner — a youth group (Boy or Girl Scouts, 4-H, FFA), a service club (Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Sertoma), a local institution (YMCA, schools), or even another small business?
After you form your team, decide what you plan to distribute. Bouquets? Single stems? Or small arrangements? If the latter, do you want to prepare them yourself, or hold a special design class?
3. Marketing potential galore
Reporters love covering the giveaway, both in the days leading up to it and its aftermath. Big-hearted events position you as a beloved and trusted member of the community, and make it more likely that locals will support you rather than big box stores or online competitors.
Petal It Forward provides real-life evidence of the various university studies SAF has commissioned. In one day, you can collect a trove of powerful images, videos and stories to use year-round to illustrate the emotional power of your product. Click here to read how a few SAF members market Petal It Forward before, during and after the event.
Several shops, including City Line Florist in Trumbull, Connecticut, partner with radio stations and other media groups. “They do phone interviews the week leading up to and the day of Petal It Forward and they help us hand out flowers,” says marketing director Nicole Palazzo, AAF. “Honestly, there are so many negative stories out there, when people hear about something that is just pure happiness, they want to be part of it. It’s a wonderful feel-good story but it’s also a great marketing tool for our shop.”
Don't forget to alert the media once you’ve registered your event. Reach out to local outlets and inform them about your plans for Oct. 19 – let them know it’s part of a national and international effort to demonstrate the positive health benefits of giving and receiving flowers. Get tips to boost your media coverage, talking points, and a sample press release or media advisory here.
4. Power in numbers
The more businesses that participate in Petal It Forward, the more successful it will be. Because it occurs in cities around the globe on the same day, it attracts the attention of major media outlets for even greater coverage. Check out these success stories from 2021 Petal It Forward events.