August 2005 saw a Rigs Road office - which had up until then housed only HEB Magazine and its part-time staff - in a ferment of activity. For a short period as many as four staff were working from a space previously occupied only two at the most.
Thirteen years and 149 editions ago, this was the birth of EVENTS, now the leading source of local news and information in Lewis and Harris.
Of the original staff, there was a decidedly international tinge – one had worked in China, another was about to go there to work. Ireland was also represented, while almost all the staff had no experience of newspapers, although they were experts in the fields of selling, writing, administration and so on.
Based as we would be until May this year in the offices at Clinton’s Yard, EVENTS first expanded to take over the adjoining office and then about six years later a third office in the same building.
Originally EVENTS was intended to be a tertiary level publication, more akin to an island-wide version of The Rudhach or Loch a Tuath News but focussed on arts and events across the whole of Lewis and Harris rather than the doings of one particular area.
And for the first 18 months it was distributed by mail throughout the Islands. The distribution in shops and other locations only began because there was a five to ten-day delivery gap between when the newspaper was finished and when it reached its readers through their front doors.
Like all new ventures (and don’t believe anyone who tells you theirs went smoothly!) there were some massive hiccoughs along the way as EVENTS strove to identify itself as a distinctive product and to fight off competition in an overcrowded market, sometimes tripping over its own stable-mate, the long established HEB Magazine.
EVENTS was originally far from the only product of a tiny enterprise dealing in PR; calendar design, production and sale; and various other printed products such as The Skye Magazine.
But by 2008, only HEB, EVENTS and The Skye Magazine remained. And it was then that the relaunched EVENTS, marketed from a series of large acrylic display stands in key locations all across the Islands, started to develop as a key source of information, news and advertising for Lewis and Harris.
Throughout the years since, it has been utterly dependent on its growing numbers of customers, the support of local firms, and its many suppliers – both here and off the Islands.
Many staff have worked for the newspaper over the years…and have moved on as well – ending up as far away as Viet Nam and New York, as well as Barcelona and Inverness along with different parts of the Islands. Their contributions – and those of the present team – have been invaluable in creating something which our customers say they greatly value. Their free monthly EVENTS.
And what off the wider world? When EVENTS was first printed, Facebook was unknown, having been first launched only in February 2004; the iPhone was still two years from being launched; while broadband had been in existence only five years since its first installation in Gillingham, Kent in March 2000. The idea that people would be walking the streets of Stornoway on live video links via handheld devices to people anywhere in the world would have seemed far-fetched…and the idea that local advertising would be dominated by gigantic companies based largely in California would have seemed completely bizarre.
Yet here we are…and from our new home in Church House on James Street, EVENTS aims to carry on providing a local service to local people for as long as they wish to benefit from it.
And, of course, it’s no longer just EVENTS alone – but a whole suite of free magazines and websites throughout the Outer Hebrides and Skye, building on the success of welovestornoway.com
A thoroughly modern media milieu!