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Great West Media's Willy Grant Named North America's Innovator of the Year

Innovation is a value GWM embraces to keep pace with changing consumer demands and changing media platforms.

Willy Grant, Director of Digital for Great West Media LP (GWM), is the Sales and Marketing Innovator of the Year winner in the 2021 Local Media Association Digital Innovation Awards.

Local Media Association brings together more than 3,000 media outlets including newspapers, television stations, directories, and R&D partners to help transform strategies, discover new business models and assist with research and training.

Willy’s career in communications started early.

“I’ve always been a news junkie since I was a kid,” she shares. “Reading the local newspaper and watching the dinnertime news has always been a part of my day. My first job was delivering the Real Estate Weekly newspaper in Vancouver. I had a route of 88 papers and was paid $14.05 per month to make weekly deliveries.”

This job led to another opportunity.

“One of our family friends had a magazine for people who enjoy wine and he asked me if I wouldn’t mind trying to sell subscriptions while I was delivering the paper. I gave it a shot and was hooked on the idea of being paid a commission for each sale.”

“These experiences led me to a career in advertising sales in news media. I moved out to Alberta in 2004 and started working at the local newspaper in the advertising department. I almost immediately was working in both print and digital and I really gravitated towards digital as the possibilities seemed endless. On the digital side, we get to create new opportunities to help our clients, and that really appeals to me. It’s all about problem solving. What’s going to drive the best results for our customers and give them the most bang for their buck? How are we going to increase traffic to their websites, make their phones ring, increase their sales, get newsletter signups, donations to the local non-profits, etc.?”

In 2018 Willy joined Great West Media as the Digital Sales Manager.

“At Great West Media,” she says, “we are committed to producing quality journalism in Alberta, providing credible and reliable news to the communities that we serve. Over the last two years, we have increased our news coverage online to ensure that our readers can come to us, not only as a trusted source for local news, but for provincial, national and international news through our Canadian Press News feeds. We have grown our audience online and this, in turn, has provided local businesses with a means to reach more people in the community through our customized advertising solutions.”

“It is very important for GWM to be known as a trusted media outlet. With so much fake news and misinformation out there, we have a responsibility to ensure that the communities we serve can access a trusted news source. Some of our brands within the GWM family have been publishing news for over 100 years, and I hope that we continue for the next 100!”

Innovation is a value GWM embraces to keep pace with changing consumer demands and changing media platforms.

“I work in an industry that has been around for a long time, but it almost feels like a start-up,” says Willy about why innovation is such a big part of her job. “We are constantly looking to innovate to reach our readers wherever they might be. On the advertising side of our business, we are always looking to optimize results for our clients and that is what drives us to create customized solutions that help our clients achieve their goals."

“When I started at Great West Media, we were just offering a few digital products. We now have a full suite of digital offerings. We work with so many different clients here and not everyone has the same needs. Some businesses are just getting started on the digital side and are looking to be found when people are searching online. Others are more established online, and we are working with them to expand their reach and grow their client base. We really have solutions for everyone, and you might be surprised at the affordability of our services.”

GWM President Brian Bachynski has been impressed with the performance of the Digital Division. “It has grown under Willy’s leadership and the brand enjoys great testimonials and referrals from happy clients. Yet, she was obviously surprised when she learned of the Digital Innovation win.”

“I was shocked,” Willy admits. “The award is a pretty big deal as it’s for all of North America. I would like to thank the LMA (Local Media Association) for this great honour. The award is truly a reflection of all the hard work our team has done at Great West Media.”

She’s happy to look to the future, which includes further expansion and – of course – even more innovative solutions for clients.

“With the easing of restrictions, I am hoping to get out on the road to go and visit all of our markets later in 2021 or possibly 2022,” concludes Willy. “I want to continue to help our customers achieve the results they are looking for. For Great West Media, we are looking to connect with as many businesses in the markets we serve, so please reach out.”

Visit Great West Media to learn more about the solutions that will boost your brand across the province – and beyond.
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