It’s not often that the Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to a woman. On October 8, Belarussian journalist Svetlana Alexievich became the 14th female recipient of the distinction—which has been given 107 times overall—for her masterful storytelling in recounting the stories of those who lived through major events of the Soviet era. In honor of her achievement, here are a few things content marketers can learn from Alexievich:
“Real people speak in my books…Together they record verbally the history of the country, their common history, while each person puts into words the story of his/her own life.”
Using real people and authentic stories—not actors or stock photos—in your content helps create a sense of closeness with your consumers. Think of the success Dove has seen with its “Real Beauty” campaign, starring women of all shapes and sizes, and not just blonde supermodels. More than a decade later, the soap brand’s campaign continues to resonate with audiences because it depicts something they can relate to on a human level.
“The point is not simply to exchange facts and information.”
To earn a consumer’s engagement and loyalty, a brand’s content marketing should aim to do far more than provide textbook information easily found in a brochure. It should make the audience feel a particular emotion: joy,, surprise, nostalgia, sometimes simultaneously. For Alexievich’s work, it was her “monument to suffering and courage in our time” that led to her being awarded the Nobel Prize.
“…Much work remains ahead of me, and many new turns.”
Even after earning the highest honor in her field, Alexievich is not retiring from the game. Instead, she plans to continue writing and innovating. For marketers, this is essential, because if we refuse to adapt and quit while we’re ahead, we risk our content becoming stale, irrelevant or just plain snooze-worthy.
“I’m always sticking up my antennas and listening.”
Inspiration can be found anywhere, if you know where to look. Make it a point to stay up to date on industry trends, what your competitors are doing and what your consumers are into. It could just ignite the spark of your next creative flame. In Alexievich’s case, she found her best stories from listening to the voices “from the street, the material lying about around me.”
“I don’t have an answer, but I want my books to motivate readers to think about those questions for themselves.”
Great content doesn’t tell an audience what to think; it gives the audience the opportunity to think about the message critically and devise their own understanding of what the content means to them. Think of movies like Inception or The Graduate, where the final scene is so open to interpretation, the fans leave the theater engaging in its content, debating whether it had a happy ending.