Oatly executive VP of global communications and public affairs Brendan P. Lewis has worked with "some pretty interesting brands, some pretty controversial brands," but he says one thing unites them: "As a comms person, your job is to tell stories about the wonderful things that the brands or the companies that you're working on are doing, and that can't happen unless really interesting things are happening."
Sometimes, however, finding those "interesting things" may require looking for new career opportunities, and Lewis offers some advice on how to do that.
The first piece of advice is to follow the exhale test: "If you say something through an exhale, don't do it." Instead of just acting on impulse, he says "at the very least take a pause and kind of understand it." He also says that potential career changers "need to have a clear mind and presence of it." Thirdly, he says it's essential to "rely on your network."
However, Lewis says that career dissatifaction isn't just about the job itself. "At the end of the day," he tells Simon, "it's all about perspective." And one way to get a fresh take on that perspective is to focus on your work/life balance. "If you're thinking about one thing over and over again, over-analysis happens, or you just are easier to be aggravated about things. So it just takes some time, take a breath, get out of it."
The conversation also addresses how to decide when a brand should take a risk and when they should play it safe. "Sometimes controversy isn't the worst thing in the world, but if it's reckless controversy, then that's the problem," Lewis says. "For me, it's a simple litmus test. Is there an absolute regulatory, legal, or massive reputational risk that can happen? And if the answer is yes to one of those, hopefully not all of those, then it's time to really kind of take a step back and think about it."
At Oatly, those risks included a series of websites that employed a series of F-bombs in their titles to let both fans and haters of the brand have their say. "What we did was we did it in a very authentic and fun way too. People who know our brand would expect nothing different. It's maybe not necessarily possible for every organization out there, but I do believe that if your company is truly committed to the bedrock beliefs of who you are, what you stand for, and are able to kind of admit where there are missteps, you can't get more authentic than that."
Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]