Allison Kaplan Q&A

November 4, 2019
Twin Cities Business editor Allison Kaplan presents journalism on multiple platforms with uncanny ease.

“I’ve always been inspired by stories of human interest and behavioral trends—stories that speak to what motivates us, what that says about who we are and how we overcome challenges. The best business stories, at their core, are human interest stories.”

How do you enjoy editing as compared to writing and reporting?

I’ll always be a writer at heart and a reporter by nature, but after so many years as a journalist, you realize that there’s more than one way to bring a story to life. I enjoy the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the process, from cover to cover—story ideation, sourcing, writing, editing, and design.

You are so comfortable in all media, from writing to television to radio to podcasting and more. How important is it for journalists and communicators to be able to produce and share content across multiple platforms?

I started my career focused on newspapers, and for me, branching into other mediums happened organically: radio and TV producers started calling to talk about a print piece I’d written, and I realized I enjoyed the opportunity to think about storytelling across platforms. That versatility has been a big asset for me. When I meet with journalism students, I encourage them to try everything. We are constantly thinking about new ways to deliver content, whether that’s moderating a panel discussion or hosting a podcast. I’m not saying you have to be a public speaker to go into print media, but the ability to work across platforms is important, and for some media jobs, it’s crucial.

You’ve said that your key to work-life balance is bringing your whole self to whatever you do. Is that a skill that you have had to cultivate over time?

This job is a lifestyle. I write personal columns; I talk for two hours straight on the radio—my life ends up being a big part of my work. It’s tough to turn it off, and so for me, the key is making it all blend together. Some days, that’s easier than others. I think putting in your time and proving your work ethic does eventually afford you the right to take some liberties—I don’t worry anymore that my bosses or colleagues think I’m slacking if I work from home. I’ve always tried to involve my kids in my work when possible and I try to fit in work when it doesn’t interfere with them, whether that’s early on a Sunday morning or late on a Monday night. Those are tradeoffs I’m willing to make because I want to be home for dinner and available to drive carpools. The key to successful multitasking is combining tasks that work well together—such as listening to a podcast while cooking—and being efficient and prepared so that if you find yourself stuck at the car shop for an hour, you can make use that time to work.

What is one thing you would like people to be mindful of when pitching a story?

Know what we’ve already written on the topic you’re pitching. Take the two seconds to do that search.

It must be fascinating to edit a business magazine during a time when the area is undergoing such a transformation, in restaurants, housing and more. 

Before magazines, I was a newspaper reporter who covered news, business and features. I’ve always been inspired by stories of human interest and behavioral trends—stories that speak to what motivates us, what that says about who we are and how we overcome challenges. The best business stories, at their core, are human interest stories.

How did your podcast partnership with Opus College of Business come about?

Soon after joining TCB, Padilla invited me to speak to a group of communications professionals about my goals for the magazine, and I mentioned wanting to start a podcast. Vineeta Sawkar, senior media relations manager at University of St. Thomas, was there, and we got to talking. St. Thomas had just built a podcast studio and TCB was creating a show about entrepreneurs and leadership called “By All Means.” It was a great fit. Podcast partnerships work best when they are organic. Rather than a standard ad, we created the “Back to the Classroom” segment where an Opus professor weighs in on the conversation we’ve just had with a featured guest. It showcases their expertise while adding valuable insight to the show.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Sharing great stories that inform and inspire. That’s what it’s all about.

TCB continues to thrive during a time when many glossies are struggling. What’s your secret?

We know our audience and we know the role we play in their lives and their work. As their needs and preferences evolve, we are able to adapt.