The director of marketing and sales at The Daily Nebraskan looks forward to motivating and empowering students in her new position.

Nicole Pilcher began her position at The Daily Nebraskan in February and, a few weeks later, left campus due to the spread of COVID-19. Pilcher leads the marketing and sales division of The Daily Nebraskan Media Group, which is separate from the newsroom, helps lead students to connect with clients and establishes relationships to produce revenue for the publication. 

Though her first few months have been different than what she anticipated, she said she was thankful she had a few weeks to create bonds with students.

Pilcher said she has enjoyed the challenges the pandemic has brought. Her student-fronted sales team is now spread across the United States due to the coronavirus, she said, but she continues to look for ways to motivate them to build relationships with clients even though they may not be able to meet face-to-face.

Some clients may not be ready to buy right away as a result of the coronavirus. However, Pilcher and her staff at the DNMG, a separate entity from The Daily Nebraskan newsroom, are working to build relationships with and checking in on clients.

“I think it’s just asking those human questions, how they’re doing, showing that you care,” she said. “That way, once things start to level out, we’ll already have those relationships built.”

In her role, Pilcher said she wants The Daily Nebraskan to help clients be successful and find ways to help companies fill holes or needs in their marketing.

She said marketing and sales is focused on building relationships, getting to know customers, finding out their needs and filling those needs. In her director role, she wants to help students be the experts that companies can turn to.

Allen Vaughan, general manager of The Daily Nebraskan, started in his role without a director of marketing and sales accompanying him and said that it took a while to find the right person for the job.

“The real trick is we can all come up with ideas, but finding someone that could be a real executor was something that I was very interested in,” he said. “I felt like from her experience, and then also from some of her ideas and in the way that we spoke, that she was a natural fit for the job.”

Through Pilcher’s interview process, Vaughan said Pilcher demonstrated she was the right person to help The Daily Nebraskan reach different audiences, including both students and businesses.

Now, with Pilcher by his side in The Daily Nebraskan’s other professional position, he said the two can divide and conquer to make the publication better.

“We couldn’t do what we do without all of us collectively [working] together, the editorial side and the business side,” Pilcher said. “No matter how you look at it, it’s two forces together that make us strong and powerful.”

Pilcher has worked in various roles at different newspapers, including 11 years at the Lincoln Journal Star and a year before at a newspaper in San Diego, she said, which has given her a fascination with the world of news and how it grows and changes.

“Whether you’re gathering your news through a print edition, an online edition or social media, I think it’s just fascinating to watch how they’re changing and how people are receiving that information in a new way,” Pilcher said.

In addition, Pilcher said she spent time at Nebraska Educational Telecommunications working with PBS and NPR, which helped her realize the importance of companies and clients not sticking with one format of media. Instead, organizations need to develop their media and marketing for their target audience.

“That helped me round out my knowledge of different types of media, and I think it just really strengthened my set of knowledge of different ways to reach people and helped me realize that not everyone receives and gathers their information the same way,” she said.

Jessica Landauer, account manager at RKD Group and a friend of Pilcher’s, said she worked with Pilcher for almost seven years at the Journal Star. In their time together, Landauer said she found Pilcher to be ambitious, dedicated, friendly and an excellent communicator.

“Nicole is the type of person who, when things stand in her way or things seem like they won’t work out or somebody would feel like that would never work, she’ll find a way to make it work,” Landauer said. “She just doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, in a good way.”

Both in and outside of work, Landauer said Pilcher was a wonderful person who always thought outside of the box.

The Daily Nebraskan, Pilcher said, is her first time working at an organization focused on college students, and she looks forward to figuring out how to market to a different audience. 

Pilcher said working at NET helped get her foot in the door at UNL and understand what it meant to be at the university. Now, she’s excited to be able to influence students as they advance in their education and learn to be ethical, problem-solving salespeople.

“I’m excited to try to figure out how to reach this new demographic of students that I’m working with,” Pilcher said, “and to help customers make that connection and get them in front of the students so that they can see their companies grow and flourish.”