Nicole V. Rohr: Crappy Beat Reporter Turns Awesome Community Manager

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In high school, I was never popular, but I knew everyone. I felt like I played a tiny role in every group: the nerds, the cheerleaders, the theatre kids, the international students, etc. Never did I think that one day my professional job would connect different groups and unite them as one community, and I didn’t even know what community management meant until two years ago. I couldn’t be more thrilled by the way things turned out!

I started writing when I was 4 years old, little stories in my Dolly Dingle diary. Dolly Dingle was a terrifying cartoon toddler (who also seemed to be experiencing a mild case of rosacea), but that’s beside the point. The cool thing was I was already storytelling, and that continued into elementary school, middle school on newspaper staff, and high school on newspaper and literary magazine staffs. In journalism school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, I struggled with the daily grind of filing stories. I transferred to Birmingham-Southern College and became an English major, but then missed the thrill of meeting and interviewing new people. Oh, and trust me when I say that my one year as an isolated legal assistant where I wrote motions and filed actual files, not digital files, was not my idea of a good time. No bueno.

Back to journalism it was. I earned my master’s degree in journalism from Medill at Northwestern University, then took a job with John Lothian News at the Chicago Board of Trade. While I was there editing newsletters and wiki sites, I began to experiment with the company’s social media accounts and tracking the e-mail campaigns, and I became fascinated that one person, me, was able to communicate with an entire group of people who had a similar passion or reason for being on that list or following that handle. With one click of a button, thousands of people heard the company’s message in a unique voice signed by my name, and they were able to respond! Looking back, it seems like a simple idea, but then it was a side of reporting and journalism I hadn’t explored.

I got involved with Social Media Club Chicago in December 2011 (my first SMC Chicago meeting was their holiday party), and that’s where I met Señor Tim McDonald. I think I won a book that night (??) due to my sharp wit and amazing humor… but more likely because I checked in on FourSquare. From there, I joined SMC Chicago book club webinars, live events, and found out about My Community Manager. Fast forward to today, and as I’m writing this, I’m chatting with Sherrie Rohde, getting directions to Milwaukee from Jonathan Brewer, setting up a doggy play date with Sarah Mordis, and getting the scoop on nonprofit events from Tim. In two years, I have met people who are not only incredible community managers, but also truly inspiring people. Let me pause, I’m getting verklempt.


I am now the Interactive Content Editor/Producer at WYCC PBS Chicago, but titles are a funny thing, aren’t they? That tells you absolutely zero about what I do. Day to day, I create and execute content strategies for and for all WYCC PBS Chicago social media channels; answer e-mails, tweets and messages to solve problems for viewers (or accept praise from them, whatever); upload clips, promos, and full episodes to our video portal; and document pretty much everything we do in the studio, in the office and out in the field. I now know the PBS Station Product and Innovation team in Washington, D.C., and through them I relaunched the WYCC website using Bento and the WYCC video portal using COVE in May of this year. It has been a roller coaster, but all in an effort to allow our community members better access to their favorite PBS station.

I am extremely grateful for the path that I accidentally ended up on as a community manager, and hope that writers and English majors out there know that if you’re not the best beat reporter, there are other options! Options that will engage you every day, make you cry on some because there’s so much freaking work to do, and multiply the beautiful people in your network times a billion.

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Nicole V. Rohr

Interactive Content Editor/Producer at WYCC PBS Chicago
Nicole Rohr is the community manager for WYCC PBS Chicago (Channel 20) in Chicago. She moved to Chicago four years ago to earn her Master of Science degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, graduating in December 2010. She is originally from Birmingham, Ala., is training for her first half marathon, and refuses to go vegan due to her longlasting love affair with cheese. Nicole enjoys reading on rooftops and having glorious, pensive walks to and from the farmer's market.
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