Across the region rigorous regimes will be put in place to enable performances to peak on Friday 3 February 2017 when this annual survival of the fittest event takes place.
I know it’s still summer and it’s still a few days until the first Christmas displays appear in the shops, but we have to stay focused and play the long game. Failing to make the final cut of 280-strong hotel capacity is not an option. Traditions and reputations are at stake.
Like finishing fourth in Rio, and being excluded from the Team GB victory photos, failing to book your place at HIPBMA on time risks isolation and a year in the wilderness wondering what might have been.
However, get it right and there are individual and collective benefits by being part of a wider movement.
While there had been a press ball in the Highlands for decades, it was only in 1989 that it was revived from a well-earned slumber and returned to service, like a thirst-quenched hack at the end of the Mod.
At the time it was an experiment to gauge interest, and that inaugural event attracted just over 80 people. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and the 2017 gathering will be the 29th held in succession when we expect some 280 guests to attend.
Over the years the ball has moved venues, from the early days in the Drumossie Hotel, to the Caledonian (now the Mercure), Inverness Thistle (now the Jury’s Inn), Newton Hotel in Nairn and, for the last few years, the New Drumossie. The Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness will be our hosts for the forthcoming event which we aim to make the biggest and best yet.
Since 1991 the ball has incorporated the Highlands and Islands Media Awards, celebrating the best of journalism in our region, across community, local, regional and national newspapers, radio, television and online platforms.
At a challenging time for many in the industry, it is an ideal opportunity to get together with colleagues facing similar issues and highlight the importance of quality journalism and a strong local media industry to this area.
In addition to the Kingsmills, another new name this year is System2, although we are familiar to most people attending the ball. The System2 team left Lucid PR this year and set up a new PR and public affairs agency, so in effect this will be the sixth HIPBMA in succession we have organised.
We look forward to another great occasion and creating new memories to replace those no one can remember from this year
And don’t forget, a big part of the night is raising money for charity. In recent years we have distributed around £90,000 to good causes, including £3,400 this year to Youth Highland, Inverness Womens’ Aid, Highland Hospice and the Highland Foodbank.
With your help we can top that in February.