Global consulting firm McKinsey has emerged as a frontrunner in brand publishing in recent years.
Its Global Publishing team is now more than 70 people, including 25+ editors, and works with consultants and domain experts from across the company to turn out content across a variety of mediums and formats including articles, newsletters, reports, podcasts, video interviews and even a print publication. Coverage areas range from industry sectors like energy or healthcare, to job functions such as marketing.
In-house editors and writers work with McKinsey experts and executives – in addition to external sources – to turn everything from speaker notes, report outlines, and even client-focused decks into publishable editorial content. The result is a sprawling and successful brand publishing operation that is increasingly becoming the primary way McKinsey showcases and demonstrates its capabilities and offerings to the world.
We talked to Raju Narisetti, the director at McKinsey Global Publishing, for a rapid-fire Q&A. Narisetti has had a three-decade career in media and publishing, including editorial stints at The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He was previously the svp of strategy for News Corp., CEO at Gizmodo Media Group and led the Knight Bagehot Fellowships at Columbia University.
Edited highlights from our conversation below.
How does McKinsey’s content line up with overall organization goals?
McKinsey Publishing is an external reflection of the themes, narratives, insights and priorities of our firm.
Who is your target audience? How did you strategize/come up with who it is?
A global, primarily business audience. Because it is an opt-in audience, we hope to appeal to those who want to understand major business, social, economic trends. Our top five audience countries account for little over half our total audience so our audience is very global. Because we primarily publish in English, it is an audience that is comfortable engaging in that language.
What are the biggest challenges of operating McKinsey Global Publishing?
They are not dissimilar to any publishing organization. We need to provide fact-based insights that hopefully stand the test of time, are based on sound data, analysis and reasoning and then presented through engaging multimedia experiences our audiences want. We are trying to reach a very busy audience so we have to be very respectful of their time while being engaging.
How do you measure success?
Growth in our audiences globally as well as increased engagement. And we hope our insights enable them to take appropriate action in their own businesses.
How do you structure your team and operations?
Like any conventional publishing operation: editors, editorial production, audience development and innovation, supported by a technology, development and independent analytics team.
What is the one thing you’d say has contributed the most to the publication’s success?
All our authors are McKinsey colleagues steeped in their subject matter expertise. Pairing them with editors allows us to bring out relevant insights in a way that would then appeal to a broader audience. And with nearly 60 years of publishing experience, starting with the McKinsey Quarterly, McKinsey has honed its guardrails and ability to manage high quality at speed. It was something we had to during the pandemic when publishing became one of the few ways we could directly engage our firm audiences.
Any advice for other brands who want to get into publishing valuable content?
At McKinsey, we believe publishing good insights is inherently good for our firm and don’t go out of our way to turn our content into lead-gen, as many “thought leadership” organizations try to do. It is a long game but builds trust with engaged audiences.