Nicole Hernandez ’18 makes a career of showing and telling people about leisure experiences in Indianapolis. Whether she’s attending a festival, trying a new café or joining in a local tradition, she shares her adventures with thousands of people who subscribe to the digital newsletter and social media platforms featuring her content. Hernandez is one of two city editors staffing the digital newsletter INDYtoday, a daily delivery of ideas to help people fully experience the city’s entertainment options. The job is a great fit for the Central Indiana native whose appreciation for the area has deepened since helping parent company 6AM City launch the newsletter in 2021.
“When I was in high school and younger, I had the same mindset as a lot of people who think that there is nothing to do in Indy,” Hernandez said. “As I got older and gained my independence, I began to explore Indy more.”
Now, she spends every day searching for and experiencing the variety of resources Indianapolis has to offer.
“What I love about INDYtoday is that we focus on the ‘good news.’ We don’t cover what traditional media would cover as far as crime, politics or COVID,” Hernandez said. Instead, the focus is on business openings, special exhibits and festivals, to name a few.
For Hernandez, each workday brings new explorations, and her followers get to see it all, whether they subscribe to the newsletter or its Instagram account, which she co-created with a colleague two years ago. Today, it has more than 14,000 followers. Hernandez also works as a freelance event planner and portrait photographer and has gained a significant following on her personal social media accounts. Fortunately, she can use content from the events she goes to for both her work and personal accounts, which helps her engage broadly with followers and build name recognition.
“It’s really cool that my current position has really kind of come hand-in-hand with what I do on the side. I just love getting out in Indy, going to events and showing people that Indy isn’t boring. There are things to do!” Hernandez said.
One of Hernandez’s favorite career experiences so far involved the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), which she partnered with to help promote the Indy 500.
“It was really cool getting to drive around one of their branded cars and show off the 500 and get people excited about it,” she said. Hernandez also posted live videos throughout the race, highlighting exciting moments for those unable to attend. The day was most special because she was joined trackside by her father, and they experienced their first-ever Indy 500 together.
Days like that keep Hernandez excited about hitting her career stride and maximizing many of the skills she began honing at Franklin College. The recently retired Pulliam School of Journalism Director Joel Cramer, J.D., then her academic adviser and professor of photography courses, is proud of Hernandez for her work ethic and accomplishments.
“It’s very exciting to watch what she’s trying to do, trying to build an audience and trying to build a message,” Cramer said.
“You don’t get anywhere in social media without having some real drive. Creating content is not easy, and it’s not quick. And to be able to engage an audience for long periods with new content, new creative ideas, new expressions, new approaches — that takes a really creative mind,” Cramer said. “So, anybody who thinks it’s easy, I would invite them to try it. It’s a lot of work to create content.”
For Hernandez, the key to creating good content is being authentic. “It’s about taking the things that you enjoy and running with that because if it’s something that you like, there’s going to be other people that like it, too.”
By Ashlyn Myers ’25, Pulliam Fellow
Original article published in The Franklin and edited here for content and length.
POSTED Dec 4, 2023