Terakeet’s content department is growing by the hour, and each digital content specialist plays a vital role in not only the success of Terakeet but the success of our clients as well!
This week we sat down with three ‘Keeters in the content department to talk about books, writers, and what it takes to make great content. Read on for the full interview (and to get some great reading recommendations)!
Q1: What has been your favorite read this year (and why)?
Alecia Riehle, Digital Content Strategist: Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive series has been keeping me sane during lockdown. I’m on Book #2 right now, and it’s been so fun getting lost in such an elaborate fantasy world. The worldbuilding and scale of the narrative is impressive!
Bridget Doherty, Digital Content Strategist: This Spring, I read The Broken Girls by Simone St. James, and I have been trying to find other reads that are similar to it ever since. It’s part murder mystery, part paranormal and part historical fiction, and it kept my attention by jumping between two timelines – one leading up to the murder and the other leading up to the case being solved. I am usually much more drawn to the writer’s prose than the actual plot of a book, but this book had a fascinating plot and I couldn’t put it down.
Saj Hoffman-Hussain, Sr. Digital Content Strategist: Elena Ferrante’s, The Lying Life of Adults set in Naples, was an awesome read. The novel is lovely in terms of character development, with just the right level of light and shade to keep you with the protagonist as she progresses from an impressionable youngster through to adulthood and a final understanding of the lies people tell each other and themselves in society.
Q2: What writer or writers do you draw inspiration from?
Alecia Riehle: I tend to draw inspiration from many different authors, but Cheryl Strayed’s work will always have a special place in my heart. Not only did her book Wild inspire me to add “hike the Pacific Crest Trail” to my bucket list (I’m gonna have to work up to that one first), but her essay “The Future Has An Ancient Heart” basically saved me when I was a nervous recent graduate just trying to make my way into the world.
Bridget Doherty: An author whose writing has impacted my life and my own work is David Carr, the former editor of the New York Times. His practice of not relying on just one person’s memory to validate a source claim changed my outlook on journalism and other nonfiction writing, and I have tried to emulate his style of research and source investigations ever since.
Saj Hoffman-Hussain: I’ve always been an equal opportunity reader, but much of my literary palate has been shaped by science fiction and fantasy authors. So Terry Pratchett who authored the Ringworld series, and Anne McCaffrey who wrote the Dragons of Pern and Talent series were inspirations as I grew up. Later on I moved into crime fiction with John Grisham and more political content. I consume a lot of content online.
Q3: How has your career been shaped by being an avid reader?
Alecia Riehle: Content marketing is all about putting yourself in your ideal reader’s shoes — what do they want to know, and how does this piece of writing help them in their journey? I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember, which means I’ve had plenty of practice diving into the minds of different characters and embracing their perspectives. It’s definitely influenced the way I research and write for an audience.
Bridget Doherty: Reading has impacted my career as a marketer and a writer because the more I read, the better I am able to put myself into a potential reader’s shoes. I try to ask myself what I would want to consume as a reader, whether that be prose, paragraph structure, length or content, and then I write as if I’m creating a piece that would interest me as a reader.
Saj Hoffman-Hussain: Without a doubt reading has been a key part of my life allowing me to expand my knowledge and life perspectives from the comfort of my house in Birmingham, England. When I was young I spent literal days holed up in bed reading books cover to cover. The insights I gained from experiencing a huge variety of literature meant that I could speak to many topics as a journalist working for the BBC later in life, and made my transition to content strategy that much more seamless.
Q4: If you could ask one author (living or dead) for writing advice, who would it be?
Alecia Riehle: I’d ask Tana French how she manages to perfectly capture the essence of a moment in time (such as the last summer of childhood freedom before school begins, or Thanksgiving dinner with an estranged family member) with her lyrical descriptions. If you’re into crime novels, check out her Dublin Murder Squad series and you’ll see what I mean. I highly recommend it!
Bridget Doherty: I would love to meet Ta-Nehisi Coates, and I would ask him how he is able to take difficult book or article subjects and turn their stories into pieces of writing that make readers feel happy, angry, overwhelmed, and motivated all at once, instead of just feeling sad.
Saj Hoffman-Hussain: I’d love to speak to Toni Morrison and draw inspiration from her on the Black experience. Learning, listening, and reflecting.
Q5: What is one book every content specialist should read (and why)?
Alecia Riehle: Educated by Tara Westover. It’s impossible to put down. Such an incredible story about the power of pursuing knowledge, staying curious, and reinventing yourself against all odds. (We content specialists are nothing if not resilient!)
Bridget Doherty: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the book or the whole series) by Douglas Adams. It’s such an absurd yet entertaining plot and it is a completely unique take on science fiction. In addition to how much fun the series is to read, it can serve as an inspiration for anyone looking to pursue creative writing or anyone who wants to increase their use of descriptive imagery.
Saj Hoffman-Hussain: Any content strategist worth their salt should pick up a copy of Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy For The Web. It’s a no-nonsense cut through the noise primer to content strategy.