Life Time plans large business and PR expansion as sales rise

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."

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