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AI for copywriters: something we should cheer or something to fear?

Right at the start, let me come clean. During my career, AI has been a significant source of concern for me. But that’s enough about my Atrocious Indolence.

Today I want to focus instead on the subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which suddenly the whole world seems to be talking about. As a professional writer, I have to say, I have mixed feelings about the arrival of this technology on planet Earth.

On the one hand, it’s true that, for writers like me, AI can be helpful. It has the potential to supercharge our way of working, removing a lot of pain from the task, while generally speeding things up.

For example, among many other things, we can use this technology to:

  • carry out some rapid, in-depth research, before embarking on any new project
  • find alternative angles and approaches that we might previously have overlooked
  • arrange for awkward sentences to be fixed or overly long pieces of text to be shortened
  • highlight all the clichés associated with a particular subject, so that when we write about that subject, we’ll know which words to avoid
  • act as a second pair of eyes, closely scrutinising our writing for errors and inconsistencies which we might otherwise have missed.

Indeed, it’s fair to say, many of the problems we copywriters routinely encounter could be handed over to AI for a near-instant solution. By taking that option, we could become more productive and our written output less prone to human error.

This, in turn, could lead to us offering our clients an even better service, one which would enhance our reputation in the industry. Word could soon spread about the quality of our work. If we’re not careful, we could end up earning a lot more and therefore needing to work a lot less.

In other words, AI could be the rocket fuel that lifts our careers to greater heights, proving it is indeed a transformative technology. What an amazing time to be a copywriter, I hear you say.

But hold on a moment. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

A few threats

Superficially, this technology may seem like our new-found best friend, streamlining our work, potentially boosting our income. But it would be naïve to think that AI doesn’t also pose a few threats.

From a copywriter’s perspective, there are at least three less-than-welcome things it could bring about. It could:

  • take much of the fun out of writing
  • make us so reliant on the technology that our personal creative abilities start to seem redundant
  • kibosh our jobs, as companies realise they can produce their own copy in-house by machine, without needing to hire a professional.

Taking all this into account – especially that last point – it would seem the arrival of AI is set to cast a worrying shadow over our careers. We copywriters might soon be extinct. We could end up feeling every bit as antiquated as an alchemist, town crier or VHS repair engineer.

However, based on the quality of the AI-generated copy I’ve seen thus far, I think we can relax for a while.

Without doubt, the technology provides an incredible level of detail and responds unbelievably fast. For example, it can blast out a 450-word article in about 11 seconds.

But the text it offers tends to be dry and lacking in character. Businesses using AI copy to sell their services would surely be underwhelmed by its lacklustre, won’t-pass-muster prose.

Upgrades in the pipeline

In view of this weakness, it might seem that we humans have little reason to be concerned. However, these are early days. Who knows what amazing upgrades may be in the pipeline?

Give it a year or two, and the technology may well have caught up or even overtaken us. Bearing all this in mind, how worried should we be? How much of a risk could the technology eventually pose for human copywriters?

Well, to check this out I put my concerns directly to the artificially intelligent chatbot, ChatGPT. It’s fair to say I got a mixed response.

On the one hand, it promised that AI could be helpful to writers like me. On the other, it suggested that. if I wished to survive in this brave new world, I would have to accept changes.

Opportunities for copywriters

Somewhat ominously it wrote, “While the increasing availability of AI in copywriting may pose challenges, it also presents opportunities for copywriters who are willing to adapt . . .”

In the midst of so much uncertainty, one thing is clear. Big changes are heading our way. While we shouldn’t panic, we need to familiarise ourselves with this remarkable new technology as a matter of urgency. In that way we can identify the associated benefits and risks.

Bev Legge

Bev Legge is a copywriter and tutor of the PTC’s courses, Copywriting for Publishers and Creative Copywriting for Publishers. He has over 25 years’ experience in writing, editing and training worldwide. Follow him on LinkedIn.