Rachel Konrad | Influence 100

Rachel Konrad 

Impossible Foods 



Impossible Foods has been on a multi-year growth spurt as demand for plant-based burgers and other products surge. It’s hard to believe just a few years ago, Impossible’s burgers were relatively obscure — and now are available at more than 8,000 retail locations nationwide, including a recent partnership announced with Walmart. Konrad carried Impossible Foods through this upswing, joining the company in August 2016 with responsibilities across communication strategy; messaging, reputation and content development; and product, corporate and executive communications.

Konrad has extensive communications and marketing expertise in startup and multinational environments, both in the United States and internationally. From 2011-2016, she was the global head of communication and marketing for the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Before that, she led communications for Tesla Motors Europe, where she was based in the UK and responsible for raising awareness and increasing sales in more than two dozen countries. 

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
The easy answer is that communications teams generate awareness and demand on a daily basis through earned media impressions, positive sentiment, share of voice, ad value equivalent and clickthrough rates. The less intuitive but probably more significant answer is that communications teams – particularly internal communications teams – keep employee morale high, strengthen recruiting and eliminate unwanted turnover.

What are the comms industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
The challenges for our industry are severe, and frankly no different from those facing humanity at large: we need to accelerate the shift to a sustainable (and thus more inclusive) economy. We need to eliminate racism, sexism and xenophobia. We need to move past hatred and tribalism. We need to call out and refute disinformation and propaganda. We need to embrace risk and build a vastly better world. And we better believe that all of the above are achievable.

What have you most admired about this industry in 2020?
The horrific murder of George Floyd woke up millions of Americans to 400 years of systemic racism and centuries of depraved police brutality. It provoked at least a few corporations to abandon their ostensible neutrality around racism. The murder of Floyd and so many other Black men and women in America also prompted some business leaders to examine how they've personally contributed to institutional racism. Employees felt more empowered to call out and fire racists. Communications teams played key roles in creating diversity and inclusion panels throughout their organizations, giving voice and opportunity to employees who may not have had a figurative podium previously. Corporate social media and customer advocacy teams felt more empowered to fire back when haters and trolls baited them with "all lives matter" garbage. Let's hope that a renewed emphasis on social justice, diversity and inclusion isn't a #trendingfad, and let's hope that communications teams continue to push their entire companies to be “intolerant of intolerance”.

What has most disappointed you about this industry in 2020?
Large swathes of our industry exist to serve the needs of antiquated incumbent industries that are ruining the planet and degrading our quality of life. I recognize that people have financial obligations, but at this point there's very little reason other than inertia or greed that any comms or marketing professional would work for Big Tobacco, Big Beef, the fossil fuel sector or other evil institutions. Get on the right side of history.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Lots and lots of hiking and time outdoors.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
"Merchants of Doubt" details the precise playbook employed by destructive incumbent industries when they face an existential threat. Required reading for anyone in communications. For skin-crawling sheer entertainment value, the “from the archives” hit flick everyone should watch or rewatch this year is Contagion.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Helping awesome women run for national political offices.

Sum up 2020 in one word.