Copywriting professionals seem very confident that ChatGPT cannot replace their livelihoods or become a substitute for human creativity and the craft of copywriting and journalism (judging by the sheer volume of think pieces to that effect). It’s become a badge of honour to renounce the very idea of using AI in your writing.
Personally, I think it’s great. I’ve experimented with ChatGPT and while I don’t think it’s going to take home a Pulitzer, it’s been an incredibly useful productivity tool. I use ChatGPT to plot the outlines of my whitepapers, ask it to write client bios taken from LinkedIn, and occasionally use it to compile FAQs. I’ve managed to shave hours off my time and unless you bill by the hour (I don’t), that’s a great thing.
I see ChatGPT as a useful productivity tool, not a substitute for good writing. It lends itself perfectly to dreary, repetitive writing tasks that take up too much of our time unnecessarily, and we should embrace it as such.
The problem with the vitriol against this tool, however, is that clients are (rightfully) becoming concerned that they are paying for copywriting work that they could have easily accessed for free, especially if you are producing SEO content that is more concerned with keywords than panache and engagement.
Another copywriter recently told me that AI has become the copywriting equivalent of ‘the fly in the soup’. Clients are plugging content into AI detectors to see whether or not they are still getting the real deal from their agencies and freelancers. The problem is that AI detectors are hopelessly inaccurate.
To prove my point, I recently plugged Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 into an AI detector. It came back confidently informing me that 56% of the content was definitely written by AI. (Now we know how the Bard produced so many plays in such a short amount of time, I guess).
Next, I plugged a short paragraph written by ChatGPT into the tool. It rightfully said that at least 54% of the content was written by AI. I asked ChatGPT to rewrite the paragraph so it doesn’t sound like it was written by AI. Lo and behold, the text passed the test, albeit by the skin of its teeth.
Clients and copywriters will never really be able to escape ChatGPT, but if you are committed to your craft, you need to establish what it is and what it is not.
The Wall Street Journal, for example, uses an AI writing tool to compile the daily news. It’s a perfect application for AI, because once a story breaks, every news outlet reports on the same facts in the same tone. Why allocate a paid journalist to rehash the details when a machine can do the job? That doesn’t mean that journalists are replaced. Instead, their journalists focus on investigative pieces and interviews that a bot simply can’t write. The stuff that most journalists want to write about, in other words.
The paper is effectively able to double its output, without incurring additional costs. Staff are happier and more fulfilled, and readers are none the wiser.
Instead of revolting against AI, learn how to use it. AI will not replace you. But someone who uses AI definitely will.