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  • Sam Schofield

AI as a tool for professional copywriters

There has been a lot of talk recently about how so-called "artificial intelligence" (AI) is going to replace human copywriters - among a myriad of other roles, of course. While AI has certainly made great strides in recent years, it's important not to overestimate its abilities, which is easily done by business owners and managers that see AI as a more efficient and cost-effective option for producing copy for their websites, marketing materials, social media posts, press releases, and more.


Decades of sci-fi culture have engrained a particular perception of AI in our minds: that of a computer brain, similar to a human mind, that can think up original thoughts and convey them in a distinctly human way. What we are currently seeing all over the internet, however, is not AI in the sci-fi sense of the word (thank goodness... who wants Skynet?!?). What this current version of AI effectively does is scour the internet for content related to your query and regurgitates it in a way it has processed as the most relevant to your question. It is utterly brilliant... there is no denying that. But there are a wide-range of reasons it cannot wholesale replace a professional copywriter.


Here are just a few:


Plagiarism


Essentially a digital parrot, AI uses content that is already out there (what it has been "trained on") to produce an answer to your query. If you ask for a blog on SEO, there are a billion web pages out there for it to reference, from which it will produce a blog on SEO. But how original is that content? Has it taken ideas from the rest of the web and completely rewritten them? Or is it using entire sentences of someone else's work? A sentence from here, a sentence from there, a header from over there, mash them all together and serve them up on a digital platter. Hey presto... there's your blog. It sounds like every other SEO blog out there, of course, but there it is none the less.


Mark Twain said there is no such thing as an original idea. Maybe that is true. And if you ask a human copywriter to write you a blog on SEO, they will no doubt scour the web for ideas, and use a similar methodology to what I described above. But a professional copywriter worth their salt will add their own (or their client's) style and tone-of-voice, they will rewrite ideas and concepts to better fit the audience they are writing for, they will add... well... more of that below...


Creativity and Emotion


One of the biggest advantages human copywriters have over AI is their ability to be creative and evoke emotion in their writing. AI can certainly generate content that is grammatically correct and technically accurate, but it lacks the ability to truly connect with readers on an emotional level. Copywriting is not just about conveying information, it's about telling a story and creating an emotional connection with the reader. This is something that AI simply cannot replicate.


Context and Nuance


Another area where human copywriters excel is in their ability to understand context and nuance. Copywriting is not just about writing words on a page, it's about understanding the target audience, the brand voice, and the overall marketing strategy. Human copywriters are able to take all of these factors into account and create content that is tailored to the specific needs of the brand. AI, on the other hand, lacks the ability to understand these nuances and can only generate content based on the data it has devoured.


Flexibility and Adaptability


Finally, human copywriters are flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. Copywriting is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and what works for one brand may not work for another. Human copywriters are able to pivot and change their approach based on feedback from clients and the results of their campaigns. AI, on the other hand, cannot without further input and work from whoever is using the tool.


AI the Tool


And therein lays AI's potential in this field; it is a tool that can be used like spellcheck in Microsoft Word before it, or a dictionary sat next to a typewriter before that. For as long as there has been writing, there have been tools to help make it more efficient, just like any other job out there. And these tools are getting better all the time. AI is the latest tool that can be wielded to produce professional copy for a wide-variety of purposes. For the best results, however, a professional copywriter should always be part of that equation.


Human copywriters bring a level of creativity, emotion, context, nuance, flexibility, and adaptability to their work that AI simply cannot replicate. AI as a tool to assist human copywriters can help streamline the writing process and generate ideas that can be refined and improved upon.


Do you use AI?


Having said that, I still don't use AI to produce content for clients because, honestly, having tested it, it generally slows the process down. Having read some of the "content" it has produced from test briefs, at the intersection of peak-AI curiosity and a few spare moments of time, I've realised I'd have to completely rewrite whatever had been produced. It can generate initial ideas to pursue on a particular topic (probably one of its most useful benefits), but it can also blind you to others. The time spent thinking about a topic and how to approach it for a particular client brief can be invaluable. Bypassing that, in my experience, can affect the virility of creativity.


For complete transparency, I used AI to provide a starting point for this blog, partly as an exercise in using the tool but also to prove a point. The original was less than half the length and, to point out the obvious, read exactly like it was written by a robot. What was there has been tweaked at the very least, but a great deal has been completely rewritten, and there are whole new sections, paragraphs, and sentences. If you re-read it, I'm sure you can tell which bits were definitely not written by AI and which bits were. Let me know in the comments below.


I'm also keen to know your thoughts on AI as a writing tool. Do you use it? How are you using it? How useful have you found it? Please do leave a comment. And if you are interested in professional copywriting services (that is, from a human) then please get in touch.

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