Public Relation PlanBy Shanna NittoRochester institute of TechnologyPublic Relations WritingSpring 2012
Table of ContentExecutive Summary 1Statement of Purpose 2Situational Analysis 3Plan 4Target Audience 5Time line 7Conclusion 8
Executive Summary The extension Master Gardner Program started in 1972 in Washington State. The UpstateNew York chapter is being run through the Cornell University Department of Horticulture. Theprogram trains men and woman in subjects such as basic botany, soils testing, entomology,plant pathology, pesticide safety, pest management and vegetable gardening. Extensivetraining is done in order to be prepared to answer any complex question an individual mayhave. The more prepared and educated the Master Gardeners are about their communitythe better equipped they are to help. This training is 70 hours of classroom sessions over 3months, and each member commits to 50 hours of service in the first year. The programhosts a helpline staffed by volunteers to provide information and gardening problem solving.During the spring and summer the volunteers are active in maintaining and teachingresidence and their personal gardens. The “Rustlers” are a major part of the Master Gardeners program, these are MasterGardeners and laborers called upon by individuals to go out to their homes and winterizetheir gardens. This includes thinning and pulling various plants that will not survive the cold.The Master Gardeners then take it upon themselves to tend to the harvested plants over thewinter in preparation to sell them as fund raising items throughout the spring.Company OverviewEver wondered how to become a better gardener? The Master Gardener program ofMonroe Country extensively trains its volunteers in many aspects of home gardening. TheMaster Gardener program should take advantage of the fact that it is one of the onlyeducated gardening programs in Rochester. A key aspect of recruiting more volunteersis knowing who to target. Suburban and rural residents between the ages of 55 and 65years old will be an ideal target for the program. The program could benefit greatly froma Public Relations plan. The program would get more media coverage for the events andcommunity outreach that it does throughout the year. Tools such as news releases, publicservice announcements, brochures and on-line elements will be deployed and maintainedthroughout the year in light of upcoming events. The Master Gardener program in agrowing program and can benefit from help and support of the community it strives tobeautify.1
2Statement of PurposeCreate awareness ofThe Master Gardener programwithin Monroe County.In efforts to recruitnew volunteers andprivate donations.
3Situational Analysis Like many other states New York is no stranger to environmental concerns. Landfilldumping in Rochester and nearby Bergin continues to threaten the landscape. Alongwith the ever growing pollution in Rochester due to factors including energy, fossil fueledtransportation, mobile toxins from vehicles, particulates in the air from wood stoves, etc.Rochester is the 3rd most populated city in New York State after New York City and Buffalo.The population grows approximately 300 people each year, and was up to 210,850 peoplein 2011. New York State is rated the 8th highest polluter of carbon dioxide at 3.37 percent ofthe total U.S. carbon footprint. It is hard to determine the exact percent of emissions comingfrom Rochester. Programs big and small can help with the conservation of Monroe County. There are other programs geared toward gardening other than just The MasterGardeners, yet none with the extensive training and experience of the Master Gardeners.Each year the Master Gardeners receive approximately 100 applications and except 30new gardeners. Programs through the Rochester Civic Garden Center are a collectionof individual hobbyist gardeners. The Rochester Landscape Technicians Program trainsindividuals in the labor intensive landscaping industry. Currently The Master Gardeners program sends out press releases to a wide list of mediaoutlets prior to events. Karen Klingenberger Cornell Cooperative Extension VolunteerCoordinators stated that “in spite of our press releases, we get very little response”. Thepublic relations for the group is done by volunteers and it is unknown if the volunteers haveany public relations knowledge or background. It is understandable that since the programis a non-profit it would not spend money on public relations. No public relations efforts are made toward the program’s initiatives, what services itoffer to the community or to recruit new volunteers. To get new volunteers the programseems to use word of mouth publicity. Residents are probably unaware that then though the program is backed by CornellUniversity the legislature has pulled much of the funding for the program and that theprogram has to rely on the kindness of the community to sustain its’ operations.
4PlanGoals and ObjectivesThe desired outcome of a public relations plan for the Monroe County Master Gardenerswould be:1. Geared toward more media coverage of the program and its benefits2. To recruit more volunteers so the program can expand in terms of “muscle” andmanpower,3. Get attention of those willing to make private donations.4. A large goal of an updated public relation plan is to educate the community of thebenefits to beautifying and sustaining the community they live in.Strategy and Tactics• Press Releases will be sent out to local newspapers such as the Democrat andChronicle, Gates-Chili post, Penny Saver and Henrietta Post prior to the lilac festival explainthe sale of plants, as well as the opportunity to get feedback from the Master Gardenersabout home gardening. As well as before the Gathering of Gardeners Symposium (opento the public) which is a conference of horticultural professionals speaking on varioustopics.• PSA will be produced and airs prior to events listed above. The announcements willencourage volunteer enlistment and announcement of events.• Brochures will be produced and handed out at events such as the Rochester PublicMarket, Lilac Festival and Flower City Days. These brochures will outline the benefits of theprogram, its’ involvement in the community and how volunteers can apply. The brochureswill be promotional items to encourage new volunteers and private donations.• A blog will be produced to give the community a constant communication withthe expertise of The Master Gardeners. The blog posts will be tips and tricks as well as aquestion and answer feedback area. Event schedules and links to related links and TheMaster Gardener’s site, will also be included.
5Target Audience The Master Gardeners will target individuals interested in volunteering as well asthose wanting to donate to the program privately. As well as spark interest in localmedia outlets.• Rural and suburban areas (all towns/villages outside of downtown Rochester)• Total Rochester population 219,773 peopleMale and female• 45-70 years old• 45 – 54 years old – 11.38% of population• 55- 59 years old – 3.82% of population• 60 – 64 years old – 2.89% of population• 65 74 years old – 4.55% of population• Primarily retired persons• Individuals over the age of 65 – 10% of population• Middle to upper class• Household income between 50 -80 thousand.• Mean household income in 2011 - $64,453• Children in college or recently “empty nesters”• Average age an individual enters college – 18-24 years old• 18 – 24 year olds in Rochester 7.14% - 8.39%• Approximately 50% of students leave home for their first year of college• Leaving 3.57% - 4.20% “empty nesters”Demographics
6Target Audience• Born and raised in area• Strong ties to the community• Feels that their free time can be well spent improving the community• Believe that maintenance of their personal landscape is a status symbol*Private donors will be of the same demographic and psychographic segment, yetare not yet retired and feel that they do not have time to commit to the program.Psychographics
7Time LineSeptember• News Release set out one week prior to the Gathering of Gardeners Symposium• Blog post – winterizing your garden tips and trick. Including information on how tocontact The Master Gardeners for help or to schedule an appointment with the Rustlers.October – April• Continue blog posts with indoor germination tips for the winter. Links to The MasterGardeners monthly newsletter.May• Press Release sent out to the Democrat and Chronicle one week prior to the LilacFestival. As well as a full page flier in local newspapers stating the dates of the event andreminders of the plant sale at the Lilac Festival.• Press Release sent out at the beginning of the month to remind people that everySunday in May at the Rochester Public Market is Flower City Days and The MasterGardeners will be on hand to help and answer questions.July• Press release sent out to local Monroe County newspapers to notify people of TheMaster Gardener’s booth at the Monroe County Fair.• Blog posts will be made prior to local town public markets that The Master Gardenerswill be attending throughout the summer.
8ConclusionWith the use of an empowered public relations plan the Master Gardener programwill reach more of the public and show what it is capable of. How it is committedto beautifying their communities and will enable residence of Monroe County toimprove the community through education, experience and hard work.
The Master Gardener ProgramPublic Relation PlanWritten byShanna NittoRochester institute of TechnologyPublic Relations WritingSpring 2012