The Swedish Academy recently decided to add Peter Handke to its list of Nobel Laureates.
According to the organization’s official website, Handke was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature – becoming widely recognized as the 116th recipient of this prestigious and coveted accolade. The concern that many critics have, though, is that his recognition came with a major wave of controversy.
Within the book A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia, the Austrian writer denied Serbian atrocities of the Balkans war. In addition, Handke apparently added salt into the open wound by deciding to attend the funeral services of Slobodan Milosevic, a notorious war criminal.
Quite a few people have weighed in on this controversy against Handke in the media online and offline – including fellow authors. For instance, one novelist even referred to him as the “Bob Dylan” of all genocide apologists. In addition to genocide denial, a charitable organization stated that Peter Handke’s Nobel win endorsed religious and ethnic hatred along with nationalism of Serbia.
As a content creator, though, there are plenty of lessons that you can take away from this situation that can improve the quality of your work and its exposure within your industry.
Controversy Piques Curiosity
Chances are that as soon as you read about the controversy surrounding this newly selected Nobel Prize Laureate, it piqued your curiosity. For instance, you may never have even heard of Peter Handke or not been familiar with his work. Most people would likely not be able to name 5-10 of the other Noble Prize Laureates in this category, but the name “Peter Handke” stands out above all others simply because of this controversy.
The curiosity has undoubtedly led many people to:
- Search for Peter online to find out more about him
- Search for Peter’s award-winning book to find out why it was so controversial
- Share their findings with friends & acquaintances online and/or offline
Think about the traffic and exposure that this controversy has created for Peter Handke’s content and online presence overall. It was all sparked by the infamous “cat killer” trait of curiosity.
The bottom line is that you must be willing to make waves and fight against the current to allow your canoe of content to sail its way to success and lasting exposure. Find creative ways to pique curiosity among your target audience instead of impulsively going “with the flow” of your competitors.
Find the Method Behind the Madness & Stick to It
There is a thin line between creativity and chaos. The key to staying on the proper side of that line is to have a solid strategy and approach to your content development. Keep in mind that Peter Handke’s controversial book was published in 1996 – nearly 23 years before he became a Nobel literature laureate for his work. However, the strategy and structure of his content withstood the tests of time – which is why the academy did not have a problem with supporting his work.
Academy members Eric Runesson and Mats Malm reportedly acknowledged the presence of unclear, inappropriate and “provocative” statements regarding political issues within Handke’s work. However, according to the BBC, they also admitted that nothing was found in his writing that attacked equality and civil society.
The lesson is that you cannot dive into a controversial topic without having a seamless strategy in place. Making an impulsive rant with baseless accusations or statements will ruin your reputation with your audience and even jeopardize your online presence. Take the necessary steps to ensure that your work is bulletproof before publishing it to harness the power of the controversy instead of harvesting its poison.
Stay Away from the Harmful Trolls, Silence is Golden
Taking the action of fighting against the wave of controversy with your content is just part of the battle. You will receive the most value from this adventure of controversial content creation by focusing on the reactions along with the actions.
When the backlash peeks its ugly head out of the shadows, that is where the negative reactions, comments and social media outcries will begin. You must be able to handle the backlash appropriately and logically – not falling for the abundance of traps set by online trolls. Remember, trolls are looking to push buttons because they get exposure when you respond to their remarks. In these cases, you must remember that silence is golden.
According to The Guardian, Peter Handke recently decided to stop talking to journalists anymore about his work after the backlash targeting his political views. In one interview, Handke stated that most of the journalists with questions have not even read his work or know what he wrote. They are just responding to the controversy that sparked from his work.
Contrary to popular opinion, not all publicity is good publicity. Focus on identifying the motives of the questions that you answer and the concerns that you address. Doing so will benefit you, your content and your audience overall because they will view you more as a master of content instead of a mastermind of controversy.