CAMPAIGNS: Skate week rolls in big PR success

Client: Londo Mondo (Chicago)

Client: Londo Mondo (Chicago)

Client: Londo Mondo (Chicago)

PR Team: Small Business Directions (Chicago)

Campaign: Londo Mondo Offers Customers a Free Ride

Time Frame: May 15-21, 2000

Budget: dollars 2,000

Store promotion

Always on the lookout for innovative ways to publicize her small

business clients, three years ago Lenora Kaplan, president of Small

Business Directions, Chicago, tripped across a terrific news hook for

the inline skating store she represents. The International Inline

Skating Association (IISA) had declared an Inline Skating Week in May.

IISA had no plans to celebrate the week, so Kaplan invented her own.

The Chicago retailer, Londo Mondo, with two locations, offered free

skate rentals, lessons and a ’stopping clinic’ to bring in new

customers. With minimal publicity, newcomers poured in, and many became

customers. This year, for the week May 15 to 21, Kaplan’s objective was

to grow the campaign even more.


Kaplan had to make the most of the 20 hours she put in during Inline

Skating Week itself. ’When you work for a small business, that’s all

they can afford to pay you for,’ she remarks, laughing. So you have to

follow a couple of rules. ’Know what the media is looking for before you

contact them,’ down to what story angle each reporter wants, Kaplan

says. ’And you have to be creative, which doesn’t take any money. If we

didn’t come up with the idea of the event, the media wouldn’t cover

Inline Skating Week,’ she points out.

For the first time, a skate manufacturer, K2, donated skates to keep up

with rental demand and touring the city in a demo van with its logo

emblazoned on it.


In mid-March Kaplan sent out a press release entitled ’Londo Mondo Gives

Skaters a Free Ride During Inline Skating Week’ to the long-lead


Then she mailed the release to the 15 free neighborhood weeklies. ’In

Chicago, because there are so many different areas of the city, when I

get a story in those neighborhood publications, the clients get more

phone calls than if I got a story in the Chicago Tribune,’ she remarks.

’People read them in a more concentrated way.’

The Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times still received releases, though.

Kaplan pitched by phone straightaway to the TV stations. She then sent a

pitch letter to those who were interested. ’I’ve heard for years, ’If

you’ve got some news to tell, give me a call, a press release gets

lost,’’ Kaplan reports. Plus, TV producers expect to be reached

one-to-one. ’We had the momentum, but still had to make that personal



The best results were pieces on the top morning shows, on Fox and WGN,

which, as they usually do, covered the story intermittently throughout

their two-hour slots. The Fox show ran the Friday before Skating Week,

from 7 to 9 am, and callers began phoning the stores right away. The

second show aired on Monday. By the time a final morning program was

broadcast Tuesday at 11 am, ’my client called me and said, ’Enough

already,’’ Kaplan recalls.

Six neighborhood weeklies printed pieces, along with two Chicago-wide

entertainment weeklies, the Sun-Times and the monthly Chicago Woman.

There were 1.7 million impressions total among print and TV, which

resulted in the biggest new-customer turnout ever. Ken Londe, the owner

of the two-location store, didn’t keep traffic figures, but knows he

gave away 75 free lessons and rented 90 pairs of skates. The approximate

dollar volume of skates sold during Inline Skating Week was nearly

dollars 20,000. Good thing it rained three days, he adds: his staff was



Next year, Kaplan will focus on quality, not increased quantity. Londo

Mondo is a small retailer that prides itself on service, she points


’You can’t have too many customers if you want to continue your customer


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