I’m not going to lie to you, all this recent talk of Chat GPT, the latest AI software for copywriting, and content creation, has had me soiling my trousers a little bit. Coming amidst a pretty scary cost of living crisis, the ever-looming threat of recession, and a dry January in every sense of the word, copywriters across the UK – and indeed the world – have been endlessly discussing the pros and cons of Chat GPT on social media in recent days.
Some are awed by its conversational capabilities. Some pour scorn on its robotic tone of voice. Some believe it’s a great starting point, and time saving device, for gathering relevant information for things like blog posts, and articles, but should never be left to its own devices. Some are winding it up with questions it doesn’t compute, asking it to write poems about pilchards, or tell its best ‘dad joke’. Some are too scared to take a look, hiding behind their hands, or under the sofa. Others have embraced the bot, using it to help generate ideas, kickstart creativity, or provide structure for their next article.
The question on everyone’s lips in copywriting circles, however, is whether Chat GPT will replace human copywriters, leaving us all begging on the streets for lead to put in our pencils. Is it the end of the road for the human copywriter? Will AI soon render us redundant?
Here’s my take on whether businesses should be embracing AI for copywriting, or keeping their friendly local copywriter on speed dial…
Why is everyone so excited about Chat GPT?
AI chatbots have been around for a while now, and I’ve certainly kept an eye on how they’re being used by both fellow website copywriters, and businesses, to create copy, and content. But Chat GPT feels like a bigger threat to my livelihood than anything that’s come before it. It’s more sophisticated, and advanced, than most of the other AI programmes out there, and it’s got people buzzing like never before.
Chat GPT certainly looks mind-blowing on paper. This AI bot can answer questions intelligently, write essays, pen poems, and even programme computers. Its answers are conversational – so much so, that it feels eerily like talking to a human being, albeit a pretty mirthless, and apologetic one (sounds like my ex…) Chat GPT remembers the thread of your dialogue, even using previous questions and answers to inform its next responses. It feels like thinking robot, which is scary, and with the whole internet at its disposal, it certainly has a mind-blowing range of information to base its replies on. It’s definitely faster than me, but whether it’s smarter, or more creative than me remains to be seen (I don’t like its chances though).
But as the initial excitement of chatting to a bot that’s strapped its clever clogs on dies down, we have to ask ourselves how much we can really trust Chat GPT to create compelling copy, and content for our businesses, and whether it genuinely helps us engage with our target audiences, making that all important connection that builds trust, and leads to sales.
I’m not convinced that Chat GPT will be replacing the human copywriter any time soon…
Chat GPT harvests information, it doesn’t create content
Here’s the thing. Chat GPT doesn’t know anything. Human copywriters (good human copywriters) do, and are able to make intelligent, balanced decisions about the information they choose to include in the content they create. As a human writer, not only can I scour the internet for reputable sources, choosing to reject information that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, I can also add my own personal take on a subject, giving a slant that my reader may not have considered.
I have an opinion. Chat GPT simply harvests text from the internet that might sound plausible, and authoritative, but may be complete and utter garbage. Its lack of judgment mean that its usefulness is limited when it comes to assessing its own choices. It’s like a toddler – give it free rein, and it’s going to make some pretty poor choices without proper guidance. Yep, Chat GPT is a child, and it’s your job to parent it appropriately – or get a human copywriter to do it for you. After all, the stuff it comes up with might be babble, or it might be brilliant. Who’s up for taking that risk when it comes to writing for, or about your business?
Chat GPT’s information may not be factually correct
You might want to fact-check Chat GPT’s information with a fine tooth comb, as the bot’s most recent data is gathered from September 2021 (I recently discovered that it still thinks Queen Elizabeth II is alive, that could be awkward if you don’t check through the information it churns out, before hitting ‘publish’). The world can change a lot in a year, as certain global pandemics have recently proved, and like a naught robotic child, Chat GPT might not be telling the truth…
If you do use Chat GPT to generate your copy, make sure that you pick through it carefully, and double check facts, figures, and dates. It may amuse you to hear that the bot doesn’t know who our current monarch is, but it could be hugely damaging to your business to publish copy that’s factually incorrect, destroying the trust that you’re constantly trying to build with your audience.
Will Chat GPT replace human copywriters? Not for businesses that want to publish trustworthy, factually correct content that’s up to date, and puts them in the best possible light as they try to attract customers. 🙂
Chat GPT can only produce content with a good brief
Chat GPT requires a great set of prompts to put together content that really works. What you put in, is what you get out, and solid instructions are vital for getting the results you’re after. If you’re looking for a lazy way around creating copy, and content, this just isn’t it. Just like a human copywriter, Chat GPT requires a great brief to give you its best work. Asking it daft questions will result in daft answers. You need to know what you really want, and phrase this intelligently, to give it a fighting chance.
When working with a human copywriter, you’ll receive support with putting together your brief, and can be much more confident with the expected outcome. You can also chat about the work along the way, in a collaborative process that can be tweaked endlessly until you’re 100% happy with the results.
Chat GPT will require time, and effort, to learn how to navigate efficiently. It’s just not as clever as you are, and you need to know how to ask it the right questions, giving it the right support. Anything else will result in novelty copy that might make you giggle, but won’t be fit for purpose. Working with a human being’s starting to sound a lot easier, right?
Chat GPT is a robot, and sounds like one
Chat GPT might be able to come up with content that, when fact checked, forms a good basis for an article, a piece of web copy, or a product description. But what the bot finds it more difficult to do, is make this information engaging for a reader, by enlivening it with a strong, distinctive tone of voice.
As a tone of voice copywriter, I know all too well the importance of standing out from the crowd when it comes to how your copy sounds. So many brands choose a bland, robotic, corporate brand voice that lacks personality, and does nothing to inspire the reader. We consume so much content online each day, that it’s easy to switch off when reading, especially when so much of it sounds the same. A unique tone of voice goes a long way to waking the reader up, giving them a good shake, and saying
‘Here I am. I’m not your average brand. Take heed. Pay attention. Remember me.’
Chat GPT isn’t a person, and as such, it lacks personality. It’s not going to help you write copy for your business that comes across as warm, friendly, sympathetic, passionate, witty, funny, or feisty, because it’s none of those things – it’s a robot, and it sounds like one.
I’ve read enough content generated by AI, and Chat GPT in particular, to become familiar with the stilted tone of voice that I can expect – something that make an experienced website copywriter’s blood boil a little bit, given the attention to detail we pay when crafting copy that truly resonates with your target audience.
My worry (more of a nightmare) is that as more business owners adopt programmes like Chat GPT to write more of their copy, everyone will start sounding bland, generic, and eerily similar. That’s bad for brands who choose to adopt AI as their main source of copy. But it’s also a great opportunity for brands to take an easy opportunity to stand out from the masses, and hire a human copywriter to craft something special, something unusual, and a refreshing change from the robotic rubbish (sorry Chat GPI, but as my next point proves, it doesn’t matter one bit if I insult you, because…)
Chat GPT has no feelings, and wont make you feel anything either
Chat GPT, but you’re a bot, and like a Goldfish (or so Kurt Cobain said) you don’t have any feelings. While AI may be able to write a poem that sticks to the subject matter at hand, rhymes, and might even raise the odd giggle, it’s never going to be able to evoke strong feelings in the reader, because it lacks empathy, compassion, sympathy, and passion – all the things that make us delightfully human – flawed, but fabulous.
Shakespeare’s tummy fluttering sonnets. The brutal, heart breaking poetry of World War I. Pithy social commentary by the likes of Sue Townsend. Dickensian descriptions of the poverty of Victorian Britain. Truly great writing comes about through real, lived human experience. The agony and ecstasy of being alive, and feeling all the feels, lights up the page, taking the reader on a journey where they connect with the author on a human level (I’ve been there, I’ve felt this, I’ve seen this, I know this experience. We are more similar than we are different).
A chat bot has never been dumped, lost its job, or worried about whether its kid is a weirdo for playing computer games 24/7. So while it can write about all of these things, its content will neve feel authentic, as it’s based on what the bot imagines it feels like to experience something, not what it’s really like (as a copywriter, my best work comes when I write about subjects matter that I’m familiar with, that have touched my life, and that provoke strong emotions in me, not when I write about packaging materials, or financial services).
As a human writer, it’s my job to find the pain points of my target audience, connect with them, show empathy, and explain how the product, or service I’m selling is going to soothe them. I have to understand how my reader feels, in order to write for them. I’m not guessing, I’m a human being, using my human qualities, something that Chat GPT will never be able to do. Though it does a pretty good job at mimicking human experience, it’s writing in black of white, without the endless shades of grey, or the bursts of bright colour that a human being’s experience can bring.
Wil Chat GPT replace human copywriters? Not if you want your reader to laugh, cry, nod along in agreement, shake their head in disbelief, feel moved, stirred, impassioned, outraged, or prompted to reach for their wallet. If copy that connects is what you’re looking for to represent your business, and stir your reader into action, then a human copywriter is required.
Will Chat GPT make copywriters redundant?
Perhaps this is, in part, blind hope on my part. After all, I love my job, I’m pretty darn good at copywriting, and I don’t fancy a career change just now. But I don’t believe that AI will replace human copywriters any time soon.
I also don’t believe that for clients who truly understand the value of great copywriting, Chat GPI will have much of an impact. If you’re looking for cheap, filler content, to pad out your website, there are already sites like Upwork and Fiverr where you can purchase this tripe on the cheap. Words on a page cost next to nothing already, but well thought out, carefully crafted words, beautiful writing that connects and creates memories, that’s always going to cost you more, because that’s where the true value to your business lies. And that’s what, as an experienced copywriter, I can offer.
Chat GPT may have the entire internet at its disposal, scouring it in seconds, but it didn’t wear out its library card as an 8 year old, or spend most of its teen years curled up with a classic novel. It didn’t study drama and story structure at university, it can’t speak Latin and understand the root of the words it uses, it hasn’t been moved by the words of generations of writers before it, and it hasn’t absorbed their work through a million tiny paper cuts. It doesn’t have a beating heart, or a discerning mind, it hasn’t loved and lost, and it doesn’t know how to emotionally manipulate its reader – bless it, it’s just not capable of that. But I am. And it’s not going to put me out of a job just yet.
So what is Chat GPT good for?
Programmes like Chat GPT are a great tool for pulling together information on a certain topic, cutting down the time it takes to explore the internet for information, but this info should only ever be used a starting point for a talented human copywriter to flesh out a piece of content. Sure, it can give you a great structure for a piece of copy, but it can’t intelligently fill that structure with 100% relevant content that’s also fun to read.
AI is also great at generating ideas, such as coming up with a list of potential blog post titles, or some ad copy for a new product, but what it comes up with should never be considered to be the job done – you’ll need a great human copywriter to pick and choose the golden nuggets from the bucket loads of information that Chat GPT can assemble in seconds. From a list of brand names that it generated, a few had potential for further development, but some were utterly ridiculous. You can’t trust Chat GPT to use it’s experience, and intelligence, to make discerning decision. Because it doesn’t have any of either. You need a human copywriter for that.
Whether you choose to rely on programmes like Chat GPT to create copy for your brand, therefore, depends entirely on whether you’re looking to fill space on a page with ‘stuff that sounds okay’, or whether you want to truly assert yourself as an authority in your field, by creating original, intelligent, informed content that’s been fact checked, and puts forward an interesting, innovative opinion. Trust is important when engaging with your target audience, and many people will see through copy that’s been assembled in seconds at the expense of a well-crafted argument. They’ll also know the difference between ‘okay’ and ‘awesome’ when it comes to copy.
Looking for awesome copy that’s worth the investment? Drop me a line. Looking for fluff, filler, and a freebie? Chat GPT might be your new best friend.