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UNL grad communicates on behalf of 23,000 Nebraska corn farmers

By Morgan Zumpfe
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Emily Thornburg isn’t your typical editor.


Emily Thornburg, director of communications at the Nebraska Corn Board (Photo courtesy of NCB)

She didn’t earn a degree in journalism, and she never set out to work in communications.

In fact, she earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business – food marketing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2013.

She is working in Nebraska’s agriculture industry, while gaining experience in marketing, program leadership and communications.

In 2014, Thornburg became director of communications at the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) where she has been since.

During her time at UNL, Thornburg was active in the Scarlet Guard, her sorority and the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council.

She had multiple internships, which she said played the biggest role in helping her get to where she is today. Her internship experiences ranged from grain merchandising for Archer Daniels Midland to focusing on sales and marketing for ConAgra Foods.

“Internships give you experience that you will never get in the classroom,” she said.

Her goals, experience and passion led her to her role at the Nebraska Corn Board, where she works on behalf of Nebraska’s 23,000 corn farmers. She manages the board’s various communication outlets, while coordinating corn promotion and education activities throughout the year.

Thornburg wears multiple hats as she juggles social media, press releases, outreach efforts, interns, promotional events and more. No day is typical.

Her biggest priority has been improving the board’s social media presence. Market research has shown “snackable snippits” (15- 30 second videos and eye-catching infographics) bring the most social media attention. She has incorporated these by adding online marketing to the communications budget and placing more emphasis on creating concise, interesting material.

Although social media is efficient and effective, it also presents Thornburg with her biggest challenges.

She is constantly editing. “I have to work hard to correctly, quickly and precisely address social media,” she said.

Although she didn’t receive much editing training in college, she learns as she goes.

She noted that English is evolving. And to her, AP style isn’t as important because millennials have a different mindset than generations before. Millennials want short, quick information as soon as it happens.

Traditional news sources, such as press releases and newspapers, will continue evolving to keep up with newer generations, she said. Shorter is better, and online is king.

Thornburg said the best thing college students can do is to believe in themselves.

“If you aren’t confident with yourself, how is anyone else going to be confident in you?”





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