Washington’s fastest-growing purveyor of corporate advisory services launched a new front in the struggle for political influence last week. At a party for several hundred of its closest friends on the top floor of a gleaming office tower, McBee Strategic Consulting LLC unveiled McBee Digital, the platform from which founder Steve McBee plans to transform how the business world builds mindshare in D.C.
Mindshare is the space that ideas and organizations occupy in the thoughts of target audiences. In the old days it used to be called influence in Washington and branding in New York, but what it’s really about today is breaking through the cacophony of competing media to leave a lasting impression on people who matter. Many of those people who matter were at the McBee Digital rollout last Thursday, and let me tell you — it isn’t your grandfather’s political elite. It is the rising generation of political leaders who get their news from YouTube, Buzzfeed, Twitter and a thousand other non-traditional sources.
It’s not that they don’t value the New York Times. They love the Times. And it’s not that they don’t care what CBS News is saying about Obamacare. They just absorb that content through new media, along with a lot of other unconventional content that most people my age either don’t value or don’t understand (think Tumblr or Reddit). But as more and more companies are learning, you can’t reach Washington’s emerging elite anymore by placing hard-copy ads or renting radio time, because the rising elite is looking elsewhere for insights.
The goal of McBee Digital is to help its clients establish dominant mindspace in the political culture using new media. Steve McBee’s consulting business has grown like Google since he left Capitol Hill eleven years ago by outperforming the competition in energy and imagination, so it isn’t a surprise that he is leading the charge on this new front. But he is determined to use digital media on its own terms, rather than forcing it into a space defined by traditional practices. In the memorable phrase of managing director Eric Bovim, the model here isn’t to shape the media, but to become the media. New media allow companies to do that by going directly and compellingly to intended audiences.
McBee Digital is going to be a big deal. You could tell that from the people who turned up for the launch party. Having built a loyal following among the ranks of Washington opinion-makers and influencers, Steve McBee is now going to transform the landscape in which they operate. Watch this space: mcbeedigital.com
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