Welcome to the Catalyst Member Spotlight series. Catalyst prioritizes sharing members’ stories to showcase the breadth of the IABC community, connect communicators across the globe and elevate personal stories to inspire fellow members. If you’re a chapter leader who would like to spotlight a stand-out member of your chapter, email the Catalyst editors at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Meet IABC member Shannon Alexander! With 15 years of experience in the profession, Shannon is the manager of specialty benefits communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Shannon is a member of the IABC Detroit chapter. Here, Shannon describes leading a campaign that made her feel valued as a communicator, as well as her best career advice and favorite industry resources.
What is the most exciting aspect of your role as a communicator?
One of the most exciting — and probably most challenging — aspects of my role is connecting with different stakeholders and acknowledging that each needs to be communicated to in their own unique way. Working in the health care insurance industry, there are layers of complex details that I need to understand before communicating this information to our stakeholders, using clear and concise messaging that they will understand. It’s not always easy, but it continues to make my job interesting.
Share a situation or project that made you feel valued as a communicator.
Earlier this year I led the creative strategy for a COVID-19 vaccine campaign targeted at our members. I worked closely with multiple areas within the company, consulted with our medical directors, coordinated reviews with multiple subject matter experts, and reviewed research and consumer insights to develop an educational email campaign about vaccine facts. To say the least, it was an emotional journey being a part of this campaign. The positive feedback we received from colleagues, along with favorable KPIs from the emails, was reassuring and affirmed that I was doing my part to help our membership and community stay safe and healthy.
Think back on a time when you, as a communicator, collaborated with another department to bring a project to life. What made this process successful?
As a communications strategist and planner, I believe it is so important to stay connected to key areas within your organization. Understanding a bit about their jobs and their needs will come in handy any time you’re asked to step in and develop an integrated communications plan to support their goals. Ask questions, call and request to be included in meetings related to the project.
In addition, keep in mind that informal conversations like instant message or even having a virtual coffee meet-up can also help build key relationships that will help you identify subject matter experts to help you develop key messaging. Having those connections will benefit you any time you’re brought into a large workgroup — and it will help you build your influence within your organization.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
As a female professional, never be ashamed to show emotion. It is not a sign of weakness but of beauty and strength. Emotion is passion, and it will drive you to succeed.
Share a favorite resource that helps you stay connected and informed in the industry.
Call me old school, but I still think it’s important to stay connected with the AP Stylebook! Also, I enjoy staying tuned in to companies in similar industries, as well as connecting with communications experts on LinkedIn and other social media channels to gain competitor insight while generating ideas for future campaigns.
I also think IABC’s The Hub is a great resource for communication professionals to ask questions and connect with others in the field. Also, utilize resources and events you have access to via your local chapter.
Member Month is here! Use the code IABC21 to save 20% on international dues when you renew your membership or join IABC through 12 November.
IABC Staff, Featuring Shannon Alexander