AMERICAN PUBLIC GARDENS ASSOCIATION
2020 VIRTUAL CONFERENCE
JUNE 25 - JULY 9 2020

Tree Week, Missouri Botanical Garden
Dorothy E. Hansell Marketing Award

Trees play a critical role in the beauty and health of our natural landscapes. They provide shade to people and plants, soak up carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, and provide needed food and habitat for numerous insects and other animals. Trees have a fascinating story to tell. The Missouri Botanical Garden launched its first-ever Tree Week in 2018 to give its trees a voice.

The Tree Week campaign capitalized on spectacular fall foliage to drive Garden attendance, participation in on-site tours  and programming, and engagement with digital content. The goal was to give visitors a deeper understanding and appreciation of trees and how the Garden works to cultivate and protect them.

The launch of the Tree Week campaign began with a 4-page spread on the Garden’s tree collection in its quarterly membership magazine, and also created an event page on the Garden’s blog. Additional campaign materials included a series of videos, produced in-house, exploring the collection and its maintenance. The videos were hosted by Garden horticulture staff and adapted for multiple digital channels including Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram TV.

On its blog, the Garden published posts about the history and highlights of its collection, its conservation and research efforts, and home gardening advice. During Tree Week the Garden also hosted a live panel discussion, simulcast on Facebook live to reach a wider audience.

On-site, the Garden offered guided and self-guided tours of the tree collection, and invited visitors to share their tree stories on special leaf-shaped pages. Interpretation staff planned and carried out tree-themed activities in the Children’s Garden throughout the week, engaging the youngest arborists among us.

One of the goals of the campaign was to maximize resources across Garden divisions without stretching any budgets. Aside from a small amount of paid digital promotion, the Garden relied on existing channels and organic reach to connect with its audience. The Garden also received earned media coverage of Tree Week, attracting several local TV news stations to cover the event and highlight the fall foliage.

Despite the shoestring budget, the Garden was able to  attract a large audience both online and on-site—reaching more than 125,000 people in a four month span. However, the true measure of Tree Week’s success was the additional attention to its living collection of trees. The campaign advanced the Garden’s mission to “discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment” in a way that engaged the public beyond just admiring the fall foliage.

Or, watch this video on YouTube here!