BLOOMINGTON, MN: Health club operator Life Time Fitness is
launching a major PR effort that includes creating an in-house agency,
looking for a national integrated communications agency and working with
local PR firms across the country as it expands into new markets.
The fifth largest health club operator in the country, Life Time expects
to spend between $4.8 million and $6 million annually on
PR projects in coming years.
Tony Harris, a veteran of the Minneapolis PR scene, joined Life Time
four months ago as director of marketing and communications to create
the new internal marketing and PR operation. He had been handling Life
Time's PR through his own agency.
Life Time has grown from $4 million in annual revenues five years
ago to $120 million today and wants to reach $1 billion by
2006. In addition to operating health clubs, it's also running spas and
selling a range of consumer goods. The company hopes to go public in the
next two years.
With plans to spend roughly 4%-5% of annual revenues on communications
and marketing, Harris has created an in-house agency called the Ideation
Factory to work on the company's PR, marketing and advertising
His PR and IR staff has grown in the past month from nothing to three
people. He expects to double the PR staff by the end of the year.
"From an integrated communications/PR standpoint, we're working
aggressively to get the people and the systems in place so we can make
this happen," he said.
Harris recently issued an RFP for a national integrated communications
shop that could help Life Time with national communications
He also expects to work with local agencies as the company expands into
various new markets across the country. Harris wants the Ideation
Factory to grow to 40-50 people when fully staffed. "Marketing
communications is what drives this machine," he said. "PR will account
for half or more of all communications spending."