Alan Hunter, Mx3 Berlin speaker
The blog

In our final Mx3 Berlin Meet the Speaker interview ahead of the event, we spoke to Alan Hunter, Co-founder of HBM Advisory and former Head of Digital at The Times and Sunday Times.

Mx3 Berlin (Media Makers Meet) takes place in two weeks, on 19 and 20 October at Fabrik 23 in Berlin. The off-the-record event focuses on specialist media and will be an exclusive, interactive gathering of up to one hundred decision-makers in the sector. A few tickets remain, for which you can sign up here using our Meet the Speaker discount code, Di5rupt_20, to get 20% off the standard rate.

Alan will be one of more than thirty speakers (see the latest updated agenda here). Here he tells us more about his career and what he sees as the challenges and opportunities for specialist media verticals (see links to earlier Meet the Speaker posts below).

Tell us a little about yourself.

I sometimes describe myself as a recovering journalist. Having spent nearly 30 years working in the trenches, from digging out stories to editing sections and then to my “second career” in digital journalism. I’m now really enjoying running my own business with my business partner Michael [Brunt, former GM of Times Newspapers and Publisher and Chief Operating Officer of The Economist]. It is liberating and I would heartily recommend it to anyone. Outside the office I spend most of my time chasing after teenage kids and an unruly golden retriever puppy. 

Tell us about your earlier career.

I started at a low-circulation-high-subscription specialist financial magazine in the 1990s, then did subbing at a variety of lifestyle and sports magazines, including Wallpaper*, Tatler and Inside Sport. My passion was always sport – still is – and so when I was offered shifts on the Sunday Times sports section I accepted immediately. From there I moved around various departments of the paper, being among other things Regional Editor, Deputy Sports Editor, Focus Editor, News Review Editor and Managing Editor. My final role there was as Head of Digital for both The Times and The Sunday Times, with all the joys of having two bosses and two newsrooms with which to negotiate!

Tell us about your current role.

I am the co-founder of HBM Advisory with Michael. We help our clients make the most of their content businesses, whether through advising on their overall strategy, their monetisation, often through subscriptions, their content and product strategies and how to transform their newsrooms. Typically we ask them to set us an “exam question” which we then answer by means of a roadmap to achieve their goals. These questions have covered the range of what publishers do from “What does our digital future look like?” and “How can we maximise subscription growth?” to “What should our newsroom dashboards look like?” and “How can we use newsletters to best drive our growth?”

What are the main challenges for B2B/special interest media verticals?

I think the core challenge is the same as for all media: ensuring that you are giving value to your customers that is clearly understood by them and which they can’t get elsewhere. Once you have outlined what that value is, the big challenge is making sure that your whole organisation and everything that it does is directed towards providing customers with that service. Be clear on that and questions about products, content strategy, new platforms, tech giants etc become a lot easier.

What do you see as the main opportunities for B2B/special interest media verticals?

The past ten years have shown us that people will pay for content that they find useful or which addresses their passions. To me, that is fantastic news for specialist media which meet those definitions perfectly. The key is in making sure that is understood by potential readers and that the distribution is done right and pricing set at the correct level. 

Meet Alan at Mx3 Berlin on 19 & 20 October. Sign up here.



After our Mx3 Berlin lunch on 20 October, FIPP will run their FIPP Insider Berlin event in the same venue (Fabrik 23). All Mx3 Berlin attendees are invited to attend for free. Read more about FIPP Insider and sign up here.


See the complete list of speakers here and where we conducted interviews with them, the earlier Meet the Speaker posts below.