Master in Communications: Shannon Lyons

Welcome to CIPR Communications ‘Masters in Comms’ blog series. 

Every week we will feature a new professional that has proven to be a true Master of Communications in their respective field. 

Our goal? To learn from one another! There are valuable lessons to learned from fellow communicators – from risks they took to words of advice that motivate them to ensuring life is full of balance. 

In this blog, we hear from Shannon Lyons, Communications Manager, Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association and National Cattle Feeders’ Association.

Shannon Lyons Headshot.jpg

Q: What is the best piece of professional advice you ever received?

A: Never accept no from someone who doesn’t have the power to say yes.

Q: What is the biggest challenge and opportunity for communicators today?

A: Staying relevant is both a challenge and an opportunity. Providing demonstrated value and outcomes is integral. 

Q: What project would you consider your most significant career accomplishment to date?

A: Working in agriculture for the beef industry and educating people about Canada’s role in ethically producing safe, nutritious food for the world has been my most significant and fulfilling accomplishment to date. 

Every Canadian should know and be proud of the fact that Canada is one of only a handful of countries that will produce enough food to feed nine billion people on the planet by 2050 and we’ll do it with the safest food system in the world. (Wow – thanks for sharing this awesome fact Shannon! #themoreyouknow)

Q: What do you read to keep your brain sharp?
A: I follow and read content from many thought-leaders and business/industry publications, including CPRS, HBRPR DailyForbesDan Schawbel, and Seth Godin— to name a few!

Q: Choose just one for the rest of your life while letting go of the others forever: Beer, wine, cannabis, coffee, chocolate.
A: Cannabis — it provides the most diverse attributes out of those listed and has the greatest potential to positively impact the health of both humans and animals going forward.

Q: Where do you see communications five years from now?
A: I see communications being more relevant than ever due to the fast-paced advancements in technology, such as AI. Front-line, labour-type jobs currently being done by humans will become redundant. 

In my opinion, there will be a critical need for formally-trained communicators to provide the crucial link between smart technological applications and industry adoption, as automation continues to change the workforce reality.

Q: What advice would you give someone that is just entering the field of communications?
A: Volunteer on boards and committees that overlap with personal interests and goals! Experience, knowledge, and perspective gained from others will prove invaluable! And it’s important to give back. 

I would advise them to develop their personal brand strategically and to consider what they want to be known (and not known) for. 

I would encourage them to be life-long students by always taking advantage of professional development opportunities.

Q: What do you know today, you wish you knew when you started your career?
A: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. You can have thousands of connections on LinkedIn, but if no one knows you when you attend a business function in person, it doesn’t amount to much.

Q: What do you love and dislike about your job?
A: I have ever-changing work days and no set schedule, which I personally love. The work is challenging and diverse and my resourcefulness is constantly being tested; keeping my work interesting and motivating. 

What I dislike is that too many people think they understand communications but when put to the test, are unable to define the difference between marketing, communications, and public relations.

Q: Who is the smartest person you know personally? Why?
A: I’m not able to narrow it down to just one individual because the word smart has so many definitions. I know people who have very high IQs but low EQs and vice versa. Both define the word ‘smart’ for me, so it’s hard to pick just one person. I meet and read about people daily who continue to raise the bar in every category. 

Some of the smartest people are also some of the quietest — they’re smart because they use their ears instead of their mouths — and often go unnoticed as a result.

A big thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Shannon! These insights are fabulous, give an insight into your world at Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association and National Cattle Feeders’ Association, and provide many useful tips for people. if you’re interested in being a part of our blog series send us note.