A new year & a new partnership

“If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”


According to the Internet, about ten different people may have said that.


Regardless of who said it,  as a business and community leader you understand we all need to keep growing in a variety of ways. I’m excited to share with you a new partnership that will grow our ability to serve organizations large and small — and hopefully contribute to our communities and our shared success in the process.


This past week, former Minnesota Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers, former Deputy Commissioner of Education Chas Anderson, and I launched MZA+Co — a new strategic consulting firm that will help corporate, non-profit, political, and trade association clients navigate state government and public relations issues in Minnesota and around the country. You can read our press release by clicking here. The opportunity to work with these two extremely talented, smart and well-connected people has me fired up about the new year.


I also want to say thanks to my friends and colleagues in Studio/E — an amazing entrepreneurship and leadership program founded by Nate Garvis and Tom Wiese. Studio/E is a unique place to connect with other leaders beyond our traditional institutional, corporate and political boundaries — I encourage you to check it out.


A few months ago, I stood in front of the Studio/E Masters group as they provided feedback on this question: “How do I grow my business without losing my mojo?” It’s a question almost every businessperson faces on an ongoing basis.


Free of charge, here is some of their great advice (all of which I tried to keep in mind before launching MZA+Co with Kurt and Chas):


– Get partners

– Remember the desired outcome – awesome talent

– Be clear on what you love doing (managing people/your business vs. doing hands-on work)

– Win without pitching

– Determine acceptable loss/risk

– Invest in yourself

– Do what you love to

– Find people to do the stuff you don’t want to do

– Delve into your why

– Do what you love to do


That sums it up as well or better than any business book or TED talk.


We hope your 2015 is off to a great start. And if you could use exceptional high-level, hands-on support in media relations, crisis communications, grassroots/grasstops advocacy or marketing support, please send us a note and we’ll be on the case.


Where do jobs come from

When I started my business in 2010 the US was still in the midst of the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. The federal government’s stimulus plan (or as almost no one called it, “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act”) was familiar to everyone, with its promise of four million jobs “created or saved.” I often joked that the creation of McClung Communications & Public Relations meant “one job created.”


Now enter Hillary Clinton. Last month the former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State said, “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.” (Of course, three days later she amended her comments).


So who does create jobs?


A recent study from the Kaufmann Foundation reveals something surprising: Over the last 25 years, almost all of the private sector jobs in the US have been created by businesses less than five years old. (Cheers to new businesses!)  


The authors of the study write: “New businesses account for nearly all net new job creation and almost 20 percent of gross job creation, whereas small businesses do not have a significant impact on job growth when age is accounted for.”


“Policymakers often think of small business as the employment engine of the economy. But when it comes to job-creating power, it is not the size of the business that matters as much as it is the age. New and young companies are the primary source of job creation in the American economy. Not only that, but these firms also contribute to economic dynamism by injecting competition into markets and spurring innovation.”


What does this tell us? Policymakers should focus more on creating a climate that helps entrepreneurial businesses start and succeed.


Our home state of Minnesota is particularly well positioned to take advantage of this. We’re proud of our 18 Fortune 500 companies — all of whom are homegrown. But we should be equally proud of our early stage entrepreneurs, like those competing in the annual Minnesota Cup competition. We should do more to support the state Angel Investment Tax Credit and consider ideas like an income tax exemption on a portion of pass-through income (as was proposed by the Governor’s 21st Century Tax Reform Commission).


Young businesses have an out-sized role in creating jobs — so let’s do what we can to support and grow more of them.


Another Minnesota mid-term surprise

It’s the day after Election Day, America’s favorite day for credit-taking, blame-placing and hand-wringing.


Here in Minnesota, we can proudly proclaim once again that we managed to confound the national pundits.


Our record of mid-term election year surprises is strong. In 1990, Paul Wellstone was the only candidate in the country to defeat an incumbent US Senator. In 1998, Jesse Ventura “shocked the world.” Four years later Norm Coleman defeated a former Vice President less than two weeks after Sen. Wellstone’s plane crash. In 2006, Gov. Tim Pawlenty was re-elected despite a national Democratic wave.


Last night might not be quite on par with those mid-term surprises, but seeing two Democratic incumbents re-elected by healthy margins as the rest of the country turned red (including the takeover of the US Senate and new GOP governors in Illinois, Massachusetts and even Maryland) certainly went against the CNN-Fox News-MSNBC narrative.


What happened last night wasn’t terribly different from Minnesota’s ’06 mid-terms eight years ago, with the parties reversed. Mark Dayton and Al Franken kept their races focused on what they had accomplished for Minnesotans, fending off Republican messages that would tie them to an unpopular President (even in DFL-leaning Minnesota, the latest polls show President Obama with a 40%-54% job approval rating).


In 2006, President George W. Bush’s approval rating in Minnesota was an even lower 35%. Governor Pawlenty hung onto his post by a 1% margin, while Republicans lost control of the Minnesota House majority they had held the previous 8 years, as the DFL picked up 19 seats.


Last night’s State House swing was dramatic, but not quite that large, as Republicans gained 11 seats. But it showed again that Minnesota voters are not easy to pigeonhole and we like making things difficult for politicians at the State Capitol.


Since 1960, we’ve had divided government in St. Paul 75% of the time (during the Ventura years it even featured tri-partisan government). There’s a great chart from the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library here.


Many pundits were predicting a Republican takeover of the Minnesota House – but not many predicted Republicans would get all the way to 72 seats (68 are needed for the majority) or that virtually all of the pickups would happen outside the Twin Cities metro area.


Of the 72 incoming members of the NEW Republican majority, 34 come from the 11-county Metro area and 38 come from Greater Minnesota. A majority of the majority hails from outside of the Twin Cities – which will no doubt impact how the House will work over these next two years.


Mark Twain once said, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes.” With control of Minnesota’s House of Representatives changing hands three elections in a row, you can say the same thing about our state-level politics.


2014 Election Night – MN House Scorecard

For the third election cycle in a row, McClung Communications & Public Relations is providing a handy scorecard for Minnesota political junkies to use on election night.


Please click here to view & download your scorecard. The scorecard includes the candidates in all 134 Minnesota House districts, along with a partisan index score for each district and notes on “Races to Watch.”


There are 22 races in that category — they’re the contests that will decide control of the Minnesota House. I’m curious to hear if you think I missed any that should be on the list — please email me at brian@mcclungpr.com with your feedback.


And if you’re out and about on Election Night, please tune your radio dial to 830 WCCO where I’ll be providing analysis and commentary.




Welcome to the new digital home of McClung Communications & Public Relations

Welcome to our new website blog.

We live and breathe media, business, politics and technology. Expect to find lively posts on those topics – and the interesting ways they converge – on this blog.

We encourage you to share these posts and provide feedback. Please post comments or email brian@mcclungpr.com.

We look forward to catching up with you here and in the real world.