By Hannah Smith
The cheering crowd, the smells from the concession stand and the sound of the ball hitting the bat are all classic sensations that fans love about being in a baseball stadium. For hardcore fans, they can’t get enough. For Emma Finkbeiner ’16 BS, the senior coordinator of digital content for the Chicago Cubs, the ambiance of Wrigley Field is part of another day at the office.
Finkbeiner started her journey with the Cubs in 2017, when she learned that they were hiring interns in the Communication Department. Freshly out of grad school from DePaul University, Emma was excited about the opportunity and applied for the position, but they went with another candidate. Just a few weeks later, the Cubs had another internship opportunity, this time in marketing, and they encouraged Emma to
apply. “A second chance at an organization like the Cubs wasn’t something that I wanted to pass on,” she recalled. After her second interview, Emma was offered the position.
She ended up falling in love with the culture of the Cubs. Having no experience in the sports field, Emma had to learn to keep up with the fastpaced environment. And initially, working with world-famous athletes, she could not help but be starstruck while meeting some of the players for the first time. However, she quickly learned that they are regular people who are there to do their job while she is there to do hers. Emma has enjoyed getting to know many of the players and learn about their lives and personalities off the field. Through social media, she also is able to share the players’ personalities with the fans to create and strengthen connections.
Although it’s a job, Emma said that walking into the ballpark never gets old. Her duties change day to day, which keeps the job interesting. She manages the content calendar for all of the Cubs’ social media accounts, which include Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube and Spotify. She works with an array of different departments to produce and distribute content while supporting the overall goals of the organization.
Gameday content is the bread and butter of the Cubs’ social media platforms. “At the end of the day, we play baseball, and our fans come to watch baseball,” Emma said. Once starting lineups are posted, everything revolves around the game being played. Finkbeiner and her colleagues attentively watch every play, ready to share any highlights for their fans to rewatch. Post-game interviews and content are also an essential part of the job, especially since it allows fans to connect to the players. Making sure that fans are staying connected and celebrating together is a significant priority.
One of Finkbeiner’s favorite aspects of working for the Cubs is creating memories. “Seeing a kid become a Cubs fan for life is the most amazing feeling. You can see in their eyes when they walk into Wrigley Field for the first time that we created a lifelong fan.” Emma herself has always cherished the days when she, her dad and brother would go to baseball games together. She said there is a truly magical feeling of watching the game played in person. She feels lucky to be a storyteller of the sport.
In-season and game-day content is no doubt an important part of the job. However, when it comes to off-season posts, Emma states that although it is not the most critical content, she ensures that fans will receive great media no matter what time of the year it is. During the off-season, the job’s primary focus is to reflect on the previous season and compose the narrative for the next.
In a typical season, the Cubs play a total of 162 games. In the fast-paced environment and with the constant changes and trends in social media, everyone must stay on their toes to make sure content is newsworthy and relevant. Emma stated that “although the hustle is not outright difficult, keeping up with how quickly things change and following trends can be challenging, yet so rewarding.” Another aspect is dealing with negative comments. In a social world, that is part of the job. Emma said that they understand that fans may be upset after losses, but the social media team’s goal is to keep the focus on engaging with fans over the love of baseball.
At only 27 years old, Finkbeiner has had an amazing career. She thanks NMU and DePaul University for preparing her for the real world. She started at NMU majoring in general communications. It didn’t take long until she realized that she wanted more clarity of what she would be doing after graduation. When she met with her adviser, she not only found her career match, but her mentor as well. She said that adviser, Dr. Tom Isaacson ’96 BS, was a huge reason why she got into the field. They talked about different career paths, and she learned about all of the duties of a public relations specialist, that PR is everywhere and there are many possibilities within the field. Then and there she changed her major to public relations. “Tom really became a mentor and is still a mentor to me. I have always appreciated his thoughts, feedback and having conversations with him about career and industry.”
This new direction opened the door for many opportunities at NMU. She became chapter president of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), a writer for The North Wind, a member of the Student Leader Fellowship Program, and a resident adviser. Emma even became the national president of PRSSA, joining a handful of previous NMU students who have reached that prestigious position.
Having a foot in many unique communities was one of her favorite parts of NMU. “I think the community is wonderful at Northern. It’s very supportive and has such a diverse student population. I met so many people from so many different places, backgrounds, and life experiences.” She made lifelong friends and met her fiancé, Alex Nye ’14 BS, ’16 MA, at NMU.
After five years of working for the 151-year-old Cubs and living in “the perfect city” of Chicago, Emma has become a true romantic for the sport so deeply rooted in tradition, bringing it into the modern world.