May 19, 2023
A visionary entrepreneur I respect and admire recently asked me what I thought about ChatGPT. She went on to tell me about how it is being used throughout her entire marketing department and how so many functions have now been automated. Then she asked if I was worried it would eliminate the need for professions like mine in the future.
I have to say, it’s not a crazy question! Or one I can give a quick answer to. In fact, I’ve only begun to explore the tool and the jury is still out.
ChatGPT, which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer, is a language processing tool that uses machine power to create text that sounds like it comes from a human, based on a prompt by the presumably human user.
Here’s an example of how this works, but also where it falls short. My friend Greg recently tested ChatGPT out. He used the prompt to ask ChatGPT to create his biography. He mentioned what towns he’s from and three roles he has held professionally. While the biography ChatGPT responded with sounded great, it had several total fabrications in it, a few other inaccuracies, a good deal of subjective statements, and a false description of what his current business does. The most surprising part… get this one… was that it said that he passed away in 2019. Thankfully, Greg’s very much alive and well! Phew!
I thought I’d give it a shot myself, so I prompted ChatGPT to write a press release for me. It did produce one, and the format was spot on, but it included everything I avoid in a press release, including the overused words thrilled, pleased, excited and delighted. It was beyond generic.
Then again, ChatGPT talks about its limitations right up front. Above the prompt section, it says it: may occasionally generate incorrect information; may occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content; and that it has “limited knowledge of world and events” after 2021. Even that part in quotes stands out to me. I think it should say “limited knowledge of THE world and events after 2021,” which illustrates a big caution – even the best artificial intelligence (AI) doesn’t compare to critical human thinking and the sharp eyes of skilled professional writers and content creators. Plus, being current and using context are two things, as a public relations and communications professional, I’d never want to do without!
Now, let’s chat about the upsides – and there are many. ChatGPT can speed up content creation, research efforts, and even responses to standard email queries. While it shouldn’t be the final product, using AI to get a first draft started, summarize complex information, or brainstorm initial ideas can be helpful.
Plus, there are some great hacks or tricks. This one might be my favorite, as a PR agency owner: the ability to have text edited to conform to AP Style. Credit to Mark W. Schaefer for this interesting hack, which is #20 on a list of entertaining uses of ChatGPT you never knew were possible.
While AI can’t nail down style, tone and voice the way a real human can, it seems like it will have a place in the world we live in tomorrow. For anyone who hasn’t tried ChatGPT yet, I recommend you take a look. The world is always changing and the most successful people are willing to move forward, knowing that technology is great, but there’s beauty in the things that only humans can do.