Beginning in the third quarter of 2002, Pioneer Newspaper Group made a switch to TownNews.com from a competing content management provider. Pioneer Newspapers is a family-owned Newspaper group that operates 19 newspapers in five western states. After two years with a content management provider that wasn't growing to the needs and demands of Pioneer Newspapers, we began our investigation of other options. TownNews.com was an obvious solution for us; the prices were great, but most of all the customer service and technological capabilities were just what we were looking for. I am the Interactive Media Director for Skagit Valley Publishing, a division of Pioneer Newspapers, that made the switch to TownNews.com. The process of switching servers, archives, and designing a new site is multifaceted; the staff at TownNews.com helped us through every step.

Since our switch Jan. 1, the compliments from our users haven't stopped pouring in. Our upload time is exponentially faster, the useability is much easier and our advertisers are excited about the new advertising opportunities. These sentiments ring throughout Pioneer Newspapers.

Rich Ballou, the Publisher of the Standard Journal (www.rexburgstandardjournal.com) was telling me "The people [at TownNews.com] were great to work with, I like our new site much better and we've received a lot of compliments on it." It seems everyone in Pioneer believes that each of our Web sites has really improved.

The transition from one content management system to another can be very wearisome. Vince Burrows, of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (www.bozemandailychronicle.com), said, "I would give the entire TownNews.com team a 5 out of 5 star rating on the transition." Much of the transition is possible due to good communication and good customer service. Geary Searcy, from the Herald and News (www.heraldandnews.com), said this of TownNews.com, "Very friendly service, wonderful people to work with and quick in resolving problems."

Some Pioneer properties have used the TownNews.com "SWAT" team to help them sell advertising online. Vince, in Bozeman, said their SWAT team was very good and delivered as promised. Harvey Brock, the publisher of the Havre Daily News (www.havredailynews.com), is seeing more than $25,000 dollars of new, non-switch revenues this year because of the success of the SWAT team in their area.

One of the tools that Pioneer Newspapers is implementing and having tremendous success with is a PDF Ad converter. At our newspaper, Skagit Valley Herald (www.skagitvalleyherald.com), we place every ROP display and Classified display ad online. Our newspaper alone will see more than $14,000 additional revenues from our advertisers by offering this tool. We used to place each display ad online by hand; adjusting the ad, shrinking it, creating a Web page for it, all this is now done by the TownNews.com system automatically.

For us at Skagit Valley Publishing, having the ability to custom design our site to look the way we envisioned it was very important. TownNews.com showed us how to use their tools and together we worked to make sites we are very proud of. Whether you want to do it yourself, work with their talented design team or just have TownNews.com create a Web site for you so you don't have to think about it, they offer it all. I encourage you to visit our parent company Web site, www.pioneernewspapers.com, and see how each of us are using TownNews.com. We're very pleased with the decision to have TownNews.com as our content management provider and I would recommend them to anyone.

(Brandon W. Kolp is Interactive Media Director at

Skagit Valley Publishing, Mount Vernon, WA.)