How a Former Lawyer Became the Head of Podcasting at MarketingProfs

August 18, 2020

Topic tags

Jenny Coppola

Jenny Coppola

Creative


If you had to guess what the Head of Podcasting at MarketingProfs’ career path looked like, what would you imagine? A former blogger? Maybe even a former journalist?

What if we told you that she was a lawyer in another life?

We sat down with Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, host of Marketing Smarts, to learn how she jumped from a lucrative law career to a well-known marketing podcaster. Read on to learn her story and how anyone from any background can craft a unique and memorable show.

From business major to law student

On paper, the beginning of Gorgone’s journey seems pretty in-line with her current career. As a Business Communications major that held several marketing internships during her time at Bentley University, Gorgone seemed destined for a career creating content.

But after she took a law class with Si Horvitz, her future mentor, her interest in law was officially sparked. She was recruited to join and eventually lead the Bentley Consumer Action Line, a service-learning program, where her interest evolved into a passion.

By the time Gorgone had to choose her post-graduate career, she realized her newfound interest in law and her top skills — research, public speaking, and psychology — were an ideal match for a legal career. She decided to enroll in law school at Suffolk University.

Falling in and out of love with law

As a law clerk, Gorgone would sit in on hearings, do research, and then write opinions for judges. This might sound like your run-of-the-mill entry-level law job, but Gorgone absolutely loved it. “I loved clerking. It was all about finding the right answer,” she says.

“I loved clerking because it was all about finding the right answer.”

After two years of clerking, Gorgone decided to climb up a rung on the law ladder and work at a big law firm. At the ripe age of 24, Gorgone was an associate attorney and well on her way to becoming an established suit. But almost immediately after landing her new job, Gorgone started falling out of love with law. Big firm law didn’t seem to care much about justice for their clients. It was all about money.

“Big firm law was very billable-focused. I didn’t necessarily love that my boss would tell me, ’Oh, just hurry this one up because this person doesn’t have a lot of money,' and then tell me ’Oh, this person’s got all kinds of money, so just take your time,'” says Gorgone. “I didn’t like that. It felt icky to me."

“Big firm law was very billable-focused. I didn’t like that. It felt icky to me.”

A year-and-half later, Gorgone decided to move on from big firm law to work at a smaller law firm, where she dabbled in several new areas of law. She tried her hand at everything from municipal law and entertainment law to criminal law, family law, and more. But at the end of the day, none of these ventures really scratched her itch.

However, there was one thing that she did love about small firm life — she was reintroduced to creative work and quickly developed a craving for it. Gorgone couldn’t help but drift toward the creative side of things again, but she didn’t want to abandon law altogether. So, she decided to blend the two together.

“When I worked at the small law firm, I was always like, ‘Oh, that’s so cool that this firm actually does cool creative work, and I’m just over here making up a contract,” says Gorgone. “I just kind of gravitated more towards the creative again, and teaching is sort of a mix of the two."

Becoming a law professor and then a marketing pro

Gorgone returned to her stomping grounds, Bentley University, to launch her career as an adjunct law professor, specializing in marketing and media law. She also leveraged her prior marketing experience to become the Managing Editor of the school’s alumni magazine — a move that would later launch her full-time marketing career (she just didn’t know it yet).

After four years at Bentley, Gorgone moved to Florida to teach entertainment law at Full Sail University. And a year later, her experience at Bentley’s marketing department enabled her to level up as a Course Director of Internet Marketing.

As an instructor in charge of developing the university’s internet marketing courses, Gorgone wanted to stay on the cutting-edge of the marketing space and attend as many industry events as possible. However, Full Sail University wouldn’t pay for instructors to attend industry events. The university would, however, grant her time off if she covered the expenses on her own. So Gorgone found a workaround — by writing for industry websites and publications, she could qualify for press passes to events.

As a result, she started writing articles for some marketing publications — one of them being MarketingProfs, the marketing education company made famous by Ann Handley, a Wall Street Journal best-selling author.

But even though Gorgone was technically writing for Handley, she still didn’t know her personally. That all changed when Gorgone’s old college friend posted something on Facebook.

Landing a gig at MarketingProfs

While surfing Facebook one day, Gorgone saw that C.C. Chapman, one of her old friends from Bentley, had published a book called Content Rules with Ann Handley. She made a funny comment on her friend’s post, and Handley commented back. This digital interaction ended up sparking a friendship that has lasted more than ten years.

A few months later, MarketingProfs was hosting a happy hour in Miami. Gorgone decided to drive down to officially meet Handley. They immediately hit it off, and Gorgone left a lasting impression on Handley. While the encounter didn’t lead to an immediate job offer, Handley knew Gorgone had the chops for creating and running a show.

With that seed planted in Handley’s mind, she knew exactly who to offer a job to if their current podcast host left the company. Three months later, Gorgone became the new host of Marketing Smarts.

Podcasting without any previous experience

Marketing Smarts is an interview series where Gorgone chats with marketers from all walks of life about the one thing they do that would be helpful to other marketers. From nonprofit marketers to enterprise ones, she doesn’t discriminate. She’ll talk shop with anyone, including world-class mountain climbers, just to keep things interesting.

Image courtesy of MarketingProfs.

Gorgone took over the podcast at episode 79, and the show was already established as a serious business podcast. Naturally, you might assume MarketingProfs would want Gorgone to maintain its tone. But Gorgone knew if she was going to run a successful show, it had to be her own show. Fortunately, Ann Handley was all for it.

“I told Ann, ‘I’m not the old host. I don’t run that kind of show,” she says. “I’m more like USA Network than I am 60 Minutes' And she said, ’No — you’ve got to make it your own.'"

With her vision for Marketing Smarts set, Gorgone could start building toward it. But there were a few more hurdles in her way — Gorgone had never run a podcast professionally before.

“We knew what the show was about and who it was for, but beyond that, everything else was up for grabs. For instance, how would I record the show? What would I use to record it? Who would I book? How would I do it?” says Gorgone. “And then I had to manage the podcast production calendar, an editorial calendar, and communication with the rest of the marketing team and sales team because they always needed to be in the loop about who was joining the show.”

To make sure she did all of these things before each episode, Gorgone made a checklist. It was about 15 steps long, but, eventually, she got to the point where they became ingrained in her head. Mastering podcasting on her own took her fair share of hard work. However, it was transformational for her career and completely worth it.

“Getting thrown into the craft has been transformational in launching my other shows like Punch Out and The Backpack,” says Gorgone. “Thinking about these things is second nature for me now, and I don’t know if they would be if I hadn’t had to figure it all out by myself. So, I think it’s a good thing to do if you have the stomach for it.”

“Mastering podcasting on her own took her fair share of hard work. However, it was transformational for her career and completely worth it.”

With over 300 episodes of Marketing Smarts under her belt now, Gorgone’s sharpened podcasting skills have enabled her to launch two other podcasts. Punch Out with Kerry and Katie is all about interesting people’s hobbies and has run for four seasons. The Backpack with Chris Brogan is all about achieving personal and professional success and is co-hosted with a New York Times best selling author.

Pretty good marketing resume for a former lawyer, wouldn’t you say?

August 18, 2020

Topic tags

Jenny Coppola

Jenny Coppola

Creative

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