Team of the Week: Ecast Ventures

Team of the Week: Ecast Ventures

As the internet arm of the GWR Group, ecast looks after the radio operator's online properties such as classicfm.com and koko.com. Launched in February last year, the core team now numbers 30 people, who are split into groups dealing with areas which include technology and design, editorial, marketing and sales support and are mostly based at Swallow Place in London with the rest of the GWR workforce.

The portal koko.com has websites for all of GWR's local stations, from Broadland 102 in Norfolk and north Suffolk to Lantern FM in north Devon. However, it provides much more than the opportunity to listen to the stations online - it has a well-rounded local infotainment offering with features such as a job directory and local cinema listings.

"This is a comprehensive source of information built for the local community using the information they send in," says ecast marketing director, Salvatore Cimmino. "They're building the website and we're providing the platform."

Koko.com was set up in January this year around GWR's four main regional stations, including GWR FM Wiltshire and 96 Trent FM in Nottingham, and is now found throughout the 31 areas covered by GWR's local network.

Ecast's long-term plan is to get people from the represented communities involved in writing the content themselves.

Opus mainly sells GWR's websites to the London agencies, under the direction of head of digital sales, Steve Cray.

However, ecast's Bristol-based commercial director Brian Vallis and his 15-strong sales team do the job of training up GWR's local sales forces to be able to pitch the benefits of koko.com as well as radio to local businesses.

"We might have a sales executive at a station in the middle of East Anglia or the Black Country who's a 45-year-old guy who has been selling across the station for 20 years but doesn't know how to sell new media sales inventory," says Cimmino.

Dealing with up to three radio stations each, the team members, therefore, have the consultative job of visiting the stations' sales teams and making sure there is an element of new media culture throughout the 250-strong nationwide sales force.

The London team's second major project is classicfm.com, the brand extension which offers features ranging from the opportunity to listen to the station online to a database full of quirky facts about the great composers. Through a partnership with Streets Online, the site also has a shop selling classical CDs.

The busy team also works across GWR's digital stations Core, Planet Rock and The Storm and their websites.

Nights out are the order of the day for the young team, which is mostly aged under 30. Its weekly meetings over beers provide a chance for everyone to have their say in an informal atmosphere.  

"This is the kind of meeting where you can tell the chief executive officer he's wrong," says Cimmino.

The monthly nights out are much messier affairs and normally take in some, or all, of the team's favourite West End haunts - The Digress, Mash, The Pitcher & Piano at Hanover Square and the Alphabet Bar. The lads from the tech team are a force to be reckoned with on these occasions and are generally as adept at sinking a pint as at synching a site.

The Sixties-themed Christmas party held at the Emporium in Soho offered the team the chance to see their leaders in a very different light - commercial director Brian Vallis did his best Elvis impression and chief executive officer Simon Ward donned a wig and went as a hippy.    

Key People

Simon Ward, chief executive officer; Brian Vallis, commercial director; Campbell Grant, ocal sales director; Salvatore immino, marketing director; John Helstrip, head of directories; Julian Gorniok, business development director.

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