“I feel like this is the job I’ve been prepping for my whole career,” said Corporate Newsroom Content Creator Cean Burgeson. “I’ve been moving around, building up my resume for years, looking for the right opportunity—and this was it.”
Burgeson, who started in Whirlpool Corporate Communications in July, has bounced around the country during the last 20 years, adding different specialties to his communications resume along the way. The long journey began shortly after graduating from Michigan State University, when he took his first professional job working in politics, running two political campaigns before landing a spot as a legislative aide to a state representative in Lansing.
“That was my first taste of crisis communications,” he said, “because my boss was embroiled in more than one scandal while I was at the state capitol and I was the first line of defense when dealing with the press. After more than two years of living on a diet consisting mainly of Rolaids, I quickly realized that politics was not for me, quit my job and went to graduate school at M.S.U. and got an M.A. in telecommunications, specializing in audio and video production.” He put that degree to good use, working in between classes at public television station WKAR as a production assistant and then an assistant producer on a weekly talk show.
After finishing up his classwork, he went to Washington D.C. and signed on at a production and post-production house downtown that put out programs and documentaries on networks including Discovery, The Learning Channel and Court TV, as well as corporate videos, political and commercial advertisements and projects for local governmental agencies and museums. This only lasted for two years before the call of the road came again.
“I had always wanted to work in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles as a scriptwriter,” said Burgeson. “So I left D.C. with an audio engineer friend of mine. We packed up my two-door Saturn with all the stuff it would hold and drove cross-country to L.A.” Burgeson had no job lined up and little to no prospects.
“I just showed up and started temping, sleeping on a friend’s coach, eating nothing but baloney sandwiches and eventually landed a job at a large talent management company and later two different talent agencies. In my spare time, I wrote a screenplay with a partner that never went anywhere. It’s still in my file cabinet somewhere.”
After a few years in Hollywood, he moved back to Michigan after the birth of his first child. “I really loved talent agency work because I had exposure to the film and television world, and I was ready to make being a talent agent my career, but we ultimately decided not to raise our kids in Los Angeles,” he explained. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Back in Michigan and closer to family, he worked as the communications administrator for a casino for more than five years, then took a job at a local newspaper as the associate editor, a more flexible position that allowed him to spend time at home after the adoption of his daughter from China. “That job was a lot of fun and forced me to learn how to write a lot of different content in a short amount of time with tight deadlines,” Burgeson said. “It also gave me the media experience I needed to make the leap into corporate communications.”
Burgeson made that leap when he was offered a job as the communications manager for the largest casino resort in Northern California. “It was challenging because there are always political and social issues that I had to deal with in the gaming industry,” he said. “It was also fun because I was the media spokesperson for the property, publicizing their gaming facilities, as well the entertainment acts, hotel, golf course, spa, restaurants and other amenities. I was also writer, editor and publisher of a quarterly magazine with more than a half million readers. I came to really love doing in-house corporate communications and media relations and I realized that I had found my calling.”
Moving to St. Joseph several years later to follow his wife’s career, this time with a third child in tow, Burgeson set his sights on Whirlpool Corporation, looking for a career choice that would allow him to finally settle down for good. “I wanted to continue working in a corporate comms setting, but in an even larger way,” he said. “So I started submitting to everything I was qualified for at Whirlpool. In the meantime, I worked at a small boutique public relations firm in Niles doing work mostly for industrial B2B clients and recreational vehicle OEMs, then worked for ARS as the lead writer for Maytag brand and later account manager for Gladiator Garageworks. That really helped me learn how Whirlpool Corp. works, and I took the opportunity to cram a ton of product knowledge into my head. I figured the experience would really help me when I finally got in for an interview.”
That experience paid off when the newsroom started looking for an additional brand journalist earlier this year to meet the ever-growing need for additional content. “It’s good to have some people like Cean who have a journalism background because he understands what a reporter is looking for in a story,” said Director of Corporate Reputation and Community Relations Deb O’Connor. “Monica and Kelly in our newsroom also have journalism backgrounds. This newsroom team has become something way bigger than just generating stories to pitch to large national publications. They’re feeding content to all our channels like LinkedIn, the Institute of Home Science website, Whirlpool 360 and Whirlpoolcorp.com, so it’s evolved from communications just to the media, to communications to all of our stakeholders that enhances our reputation by telling positive, interesting stories”
Now that he’s landed that long-awaited spot on the Corporate Comms team, Burgeson is excited about his future prospects. “Creating content is a what I really enjoy,” he said. “First and foremost, I’ve always been a writer. Video is also a passion of mine, so to have a job where I get to do both on a daily basis is a dream come true, and to be part of something as groundbreaking as doing brand journalism for such a large company is just icing on the cake. I look forward to coming in every day and working on stories that amplify the accomplishments of the corporation and the people who work here, and I can’t wait to see where it eventually takes me.”
If you have an idea for a story, email Cean Burgeson at firstname.lastname@example.org