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Insight: Copywriting - What ChatGPT can do for you

Let’s begin with a term of reference – by copywriting I’m referring to a broad range of sales, marketing and PR materials including press releases, White Papers, solutions briefs, email campaigns, social media posts and more.


I’ve been working with the bot of the moment for the last few weeks, asking it to pretty much shadow my work and write alongside me on some client projects.


Based on this experience my top 5 thoughts on how ChatGPT may be able to help you are below.


Spoiler alert – number 5 is a big watch out.


You should use it

ChatGPT returns copy insanely quickly and has the potential to save you a lot of time.


But you’ll need to think analytically to get the best from it, set some parameters and offer it guidance. For example:


Asking for content from any perspective (e.g. first or third person)

Requesting UK or US English

Suggesting written styles – such as ‘newspaper editorial’

Giving it a word count

Asking for source material or stats to be included

Providing reference sources

Requesting numerous versions


There are many more options too – such as asking it to write in any style you can think of, although it struggled with Dostoevsky – so have a play with it, it's fun.


It’s ideal for social copy and blogs

It does the best job on what I see as formulaic copy.


This includes social media posts, blogs, SEO content and meta descriptions.


Its particularly adept at summarising content you give it – hence why it’s great for SEO and meta work.


When it comes to social media there’s lots of potential to create quick posts.  


But you’ll also need to edit everything to ensure they feel personal to you and your style.


The same applies to blogs.


ChatGPT generates results from a broad range of sources.


It will give you a good start on copy but it doesn’t have opinions.


So subject matter experts will still be needed to add their own spin and insight into the work.


Creatively, it’s so, so

ChatGPT is a good creative partner when looking for a little inspiration such as headlines, naming ideas, and straplines.


But if you ask for a definitive piece of creative content, it struggles.


We’re working on a new AI solution for retailers.


So, I asked ChatGPT to write short, creative Demandbase and LinkedIn adverts to promote it.


The copy was way off tone of voice, felt excitable and used exclamation marks!!


This is just about the biggest no-no in business writing in my opinion.


And even with a basic sales email for the same client it struggled.


It returned 300 words, (emails should be max 120 words) some of which was usable but most of which wasn’t.


While it may improve over time, for now, ChatGPT gets a B minus when it comes to creative writing.


It has a style – and it’s not yours

Despite having billions of data points and being based on natural language processing, it has a style.


I liken it to a smart, eager, pre-college student.


It’s very US in tone (it loves a long sentence), grammatically it’s solid – and it’s sweet too.


By this I mean ask it to write an email and it’s super polite, with warm introductions and touching sign-offs.


While you can ask it to write in different styles to approximate to a brand feel, the central style doesn’t really change and is cliché riven – look out for the liberal use of ‘game changing’, ‘revolutionizing’, ‘cutting-edge’, ‘paradigm’, 'leveraging' and on….


Research shows that the human eye glosses over these overused terms and the readability overall of copy is negatively impacted.


It also tends to rely on basic techniques.


When writing articles, it will often refer to the ‘introduction’ and phrases like ‘so in conclusion.’


Each point is argued in one paragraph and sometimes copy is not well linked so articles can feel disjointed.


Overall, it lacks nuance, a smart touch here and there and yes, it doesn’t feel totally human.


I think I’ll soon be able to spot work that’s written by bots.


That means your customers and prospects will be able too to.


Be careful


Lastly, discussions around ChatGPT suggest that copy is written originally.


However, research from Penn State has uncovered clear issues of plagiarism.


And when ChatGPT was working on an article with me, I thought I’d seen some of it before.


A little old school Googling later and I'm pretty sure it had scraped data from my client’s website and a press release which it had amended.


My worry is that it may index and use ideas and copy from media platforms, or worse a competitors’ content, without you knowing. Here's what Jinghui Chen, assistant professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State, says. "While leveraging language models as a search engine or a stack overflow to debug code is probably fine, for other purposes, since the language model may produce plagiarized content, it may result in negative consequences for the user." 


So, if you’re planning to use ChatGPT for external content I’d ask the view of your legal team.


At the very least, you’d need to heavily edit the copy and add your own spin to avoid inadvertent copyright issues.


The last word

To use ChatGPT or not?


It's a qualified yes.


It will save you time, and as a tool it can help fire the imagination and improve creative copy produced by people.


For clients, content like social media posts can be produced by ChatGPT and similar tools, but I believe top end content will still need human involvement.


Let’s leave the last word to the bot itself, which tends to agree:


Will you replace copywriters?


As an AI language model, my goal is not to make copywriters redundant, but rather to assist them in their work. While I’m capable of generating text on a variety of topics, I cannot replicate the creativity and originality of human writers. My primary function is to provide support to writers by generating ideas, offering suggestions, and helping them to streamline their workflow. Ultimately, the role of the copywriter is to craft engaging and compelling content that resonates with audiences, and I believe that this is a skill that will continue to be highly valued in the years to come.

About the author

Tim Simmons

Simmons x Schmid, probably the best blog writers in the world.


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