Allison Babka's Professional History
(Well, Most of It, Anyway)
I'm an award-winning wordsmith, editor and content planner with significant experience in journalism, editing, copywriting, video production, digital media and more. Basically I dig up and build multi-channel stories, capitalizing on big-picture storytelling opportunities for media and agencies. I make things pretty with words and glue stuff together with common sense.
Dive into my projects here, get extra insights on the blog, find a bunch of author archives here and scroll down for traditional résumé stuff. Note: I'm in the process of consolidating my work on this site, but for now, some links will still take you to external archives.
Senior Content Editor and Editor-In-Chief
Arch to Park and theSTL.com -- 2018-present
Instrumental in launching the STLMade movement in March 2019, a region-wide effort to brand St. Louis, influence local attitudes, attract and retain talent and foster economic development. Built theSTL.com, a storytelling platform highlighting the people and ideas driving St. Louis forward through work, community and culture. Directed all website content, including longform copy, photography and cinematography. Set editorial direction, managed contributors and assignments, collaborated on budget, and liaised with partners on sentiment research, events, media, social and advertising. Learn more at theSTL.com or peruse my author archive.
Journalist and Features Writer
Riverfront Times, Ladue News, Maryville Magazine, others -- 2012-2018
Reported for the print and digital editions of local periodicals and outlets, adhering to AP and house styles. Researched and developed cover stories, features, interviews/profiles, blog posts, reviews and sponsored content while considering art and layout needs and contributing photography. Wrote for and edited annual special editions and shopping guides designed to boost local tourism, pride and sales. Topics: entertainment, travel, business, tech, wellness, weddings, fashion, nerd culture, social justice, general lifestyle and quirky characters. Read about media projects, peruse my author archives and dive into the in-progress story archive on the blog.
Editorial Director/Senior Content Producer
Venture Cafe, Bigwidesky, An Under Cover Weekend, others -- 2012-2018
Brainstormed and developed strategic print and digital content for agencies, organizations, schools and publications. Was contracted for content planning, copywriting, interviews, blogging, collateral/ebook development, editing, video pre-production, video footage scripts, social media execution and specialty sponsored content. Notable: directed Facebook activist engagement for the local chapter of a national health organization and developed a new 90-page print magazine for Venture Cafe, a global innovation/entrepreneur network. See marketing projects, read "Happen" magazine and learn more on the blog.
Alive Magazine -- 2016
Temporarily headed daily content strategy, production and budget for the digital presence of a regional lifestyle magazine (35K average monthly circulation highlighting design, art, fashion & food in 10 Midwestern cities). Streamlined daily story assignments, developed writers’ skills, edited 20-30 stories each week, managed social media and oversaw weekly and monthly promotional email newsletters while advising on overall process improvements. Edited and/or wrote longform feature stories for the quarterly print magazine and developed content for other materials. Worked with clients on strategic, multi-channel, sponsored content planning and development. Cultivated and mentored staffers, freelancers and interns. See some of my Alive work or read about my coaching junior writers.
Gateway Media -- 2015-2016
Oversaw daily viral content production for Gateway’s most-trafficked websites BrainJet and YesPets as well as for brand Facebook accounts, which had nearly one million combined followers at the time. Managed three writers and advised on content for additional Gateway websites. Researched and launched 20+ weekly high-traffic slideshows, blog posts, listicles, polls, videos and image packages, using a variety of analytics and proprietary tools to maximize pageviews and revenue (most pieces earned tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of clicks). Developed content calendars while championing article accuracy and responsible image sourcing. Led SXSW on-location blog and video coverage for all Gateway websites; later trained staffers on live event reporting and social media updates. Subjects I wrote about or assigned included science, animals, geography, industry confessions, pop culture, tech/apps, dating and sex, history, world culture, food, personality traits, "fails," weird things and general trivia. Our content frequently was shared by prominent online influencers such as George Takei. The company had a major reduction in force in 2016, and I was one of the casualties. Read about my SXSW coverage, my BrainJet adventures and my YesPets cuteness.
Brand Journalist and Copywriter
HLK -- 2015
Played point on a content-driven agency team, collaborating with development, design, video and account groups to bring on-brand stories to life via blog posts, videos, websites, newsletters and social media. Championed brand strategy/standards while contributing to ideation for digital concepts and tactics. Contributed to in-house agency blog and new processes for live-sharing events. Most of my accounts were major players in the agriculture industry, but I also contributed to science, construction and toy clients as well as to HLK itself. Learn more about my marketing projects, or dive even deeper here, here, here and here.
Riverfront Times -- 2014-2015
Headed website and social media duties for the St. Louis-based alt-weekly newspaper (55K weekly circulation). Coordinated with reporting, art and marketing teams, cultivated and managed freelance photographer pool, served as slideshow producer/writer, pitched video suggestions and monitored social channels for story ideas. Was the tweet-storming hub for Ferguson, Mo., live coverage. Raised organic engagement and affinity on all social media accounts (increased Twitter followers by 15,000+), explored emerging trends and created social media brand voice documentation and guides. Learn more about my RFT digital work, read some stories or dive deeper here and here.
Marketing Specialist for Undergraduate Recruitment
Saint Louis University -- 2007-2012
Oversaw multi-channel aspirational marketing plans and served as the brand voice/guardian for the university’s highly successful “Be a Billiken” undergraduate student recruitment brand -- the university’s first cohesive cross-division storytelling effort. The brand experienced steady growth since its introduction in 2008, and my efforts directly helped the university welcome its then-largest freshman class in history in 2011.
Collaborated with executive, admission, financial aid and marketing teams to develop messaging and vet visual concepts for all channels, ensuring that all were consistent with established strategy/goals to attract college-bound 15- to 17-year-olds. Wrote, edited or approved messaging for all major undergraduate recruitment materials and properties, including signature catalogs, special websites, traditional advertising, stakeholder communications, campus experiences, social media, trade show/career fair materials and more. Served as brand and project manager for newly launched digital recruitment portal, coordinating all aspects of development, design and content. Oversaw strategic video production for portal, movie theater and television spots, aligning all content with established goals and gearing specific production towards student, parent and guidance counselor communications. Coordinated logistics for radio ads, video voiceovers and photo shoots. Maintained multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts and developed proposals for overall university social media use. Traveled to growth cities and led student focus groups to adapt messaging to specific target markets. Led digital training and brand consistency sessions for university departments. Learn more about my "Be a Billiken" marketing work, read a few things on the blog or take a very deep dive with a gazillion links.
Editor of Internal Communications
Saint Louis University -- 2002-2007
Managed and grew the university’s internal communications efforts from a no-frills email update for 5,000+ faculty members into a full-service daily news website, daily e-newsletter, bimonthly newspaper and other channels for faculty, staff and administrators plus 12,000 students and board members/university friends. Led a reimagining of the faculty newspaper in 2006 -- its first in a decade -- with new content departments, design and bylines. Researched and wrote exclusive features, assigned stories and photography, edited submissions, developed policies, fact-checked all items, coordinated distribution and guided student workers. Wrote or edited executive messaging for internal and public use. Oversaw the university’s online style guide, marketing department website and various publication websites. Wrote department news and feature stories for the university's quarterly alumni magazine. Assisted with media outreach. Promoted to editor from media relations assistant and media relations associate. Read more about internal communications here or dive into more SLU projects here.
First Community Credit Union -- 2000-2001
Composed leadership communications, wrote and designed targeted marketing pieces, and produced monthly teen and employee newsletters for a financial institution with nearly 200,000 members in Missouri and Illinois.
Staff Reporter and Website Designer
Ogden Newspapers -- 1995-2000
Covered local news and features for The Intelligencer and the Wheeling News-Register, two daily newspapers in Wheeling, West Virginia. Also curated daily wire content for local and statewide news websites and developed websites for chain newspapers and advertisers. Retained professionally after several print and digital internships.
Bethany College -- 1999
Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism and a minor in French. Studied abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Associated Press Style (AP Style), HTML, content management systems (WordPress, Ingeniux, Moveable Type, Foundation/Gyrobase, Squarespace), social media management systems (Hootsuite, Falcon), image-editing and layout programs (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Pixlr, Canva), photography, SEO principles, MailChimp, analytics programs (Google, various social media platforms).
SEO Laundry List
Content strategy, publications strategy, marketing strategy, digital strategy, editorial strategy, creative strategy, journalism, articles, blogs, editorials, interviews, profiles, bios, histories, overviews, newspapers, magazines, alt-weeklies, video plans, content plans, editorial calendars, sponsored content, branded content, brand partners, brand publishing, content marketing, social media content, social media bios, brochures, direct mail, radio, advertising, marketing, e-books, downloads, copywriting, SEO copywriting, ghostblogging, brand stewardship, brand guardian, brand voice, video scripts, radio scripts, photo shoots, community engagement, reviews, internal communications.
But wait, there's more! Here are a few extra projects that I've enjoyed.
St. Louis Music Initiative -- Committee Member
Advised a region-wide initiative by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation and others to study and celebrate St. Louis as a thriving music economy that can attract and retain talent. Assisted with content, media angles and digital marketing. The new St. Louis Music Week launches in 2020, while Midwest Music Summit debuts in 2021.
Social Media Club St. Louis -- Board Member and Speaker
Led a comprehensive communications audit and full website revamp while developing content strategies and timelines for the local chapter of the digital marketing network. Presented on media and marketing during summits and panel discussions.
Ready + Willing -- Volunteer Storyteller
Developed internal communication strategies and media outreach plans for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society via an organization of communications and marketing professionals.
Media Now -- Instructor
Taught “Quality Writing on Deadline” during a four-day journalism camp attended by 300+ top high school students from around the nation. Focused on story angles, beat writing, interviewing, social media, accuracy, integrity and career paths.
Cinema St. Louis -- Judge
Considered 20 St. Louis-made films for the annual 48-Hour Film Project competition.
St. Louis Area Foodbank -- Marketing Volunteer
As part of the "Social Media Avengers," boosted the signal for the Foodbank's promotional efforts. Strategized social media and traditional media promotions for Foodbank events and messaging and contributed to the Foodbank's blog and volunteer efforts.
Riverfront Times -- RFT Music Showcase Stage Manager/Emcee
Introduced band sets, gave shoutouts to sponsors and coordinated backstage venue needs for the RFT's annual festival celebrating local music (recently rebranded as ShowcaseSTL).
Frailey's Southtown, via ProSource Entertainment -- Karaoke Host
Led weekly entertainment, consulted on Facebook marketing strategy, developed Yelp/Foursquare incentives and organized partner events. Was named in St. Louis Magazine's 2015 "A-List" issue as a "karaoke all-star."
You never know what or who might spark a great editorial idea! I'm available for short-term, long-term and one-off writing, editing and content-planning projects for media, in-house teams and agencies. I generally need at least two weeks' notice and a signed contract (or other mutually agreed-upon commitment) before beginning work, so please connect with me as soon as you anticipate a project. PR folks, feel free to pitch me as long as your story ideas are tied to the greater St. Louis region in some way.
One more thing: This site looks awful via mobile. View it on a laptop for best results.
A Note About Images
All photos and images are displayed as part of my portfolio packages and as commentary. They belong to their originators, which include periodicals, agencies, brands, individual photographers, stock resources and myself. Please obtain permission from original owners if you're interested in using these or similar images. Please do not steal items.