20 Feb An Open Letter to ChatGPT: “You do you!”
(Is it ok if I call you that? We’re gonna be ‘friends’, after all.)
You’ve created quite the uproar, haven’t you? Coming in here, crash landing in our home (screens). Sending every writer and her laptop into a tailspin.
But before I tell you what I’m here to tell you, allow me to introduce myself.
I’m Vikki, and I’m a copywriter. Actually – for obvious reasons – I need to be more specific here: I’m a copywriter… with a pulse. I laugh most days. I cry on others. I’ve had my heart broken (twice). I love reading memoirs. I’m a podcast junkie. I’m obsessed with anything coconut flavoured. And, every now and then, when I’m in the shower, I come up with a fucking awesome headline.
Oh, and one more thing: I founded Australia’s longest-running copywriting agency back in the early noughties. That means I’ve been immersed in words since the toddler years of Google. And I spend my workdays with other living, breathing copywriters. Brainstorming creative angles, editing for crystal clear readability, triple-checking pesky grammar rules, agonising over teeny tiny word choices… You know the drill. (Or do you? 😉)
Now, back to you.
I admit it: you’re insanely impressive. In fact, I distinctly remember the first time I met you.
Yup, it was (begrudged) respect at first sight.
Our first date? I asked you to write a blog post about proofreading strategies (it was the first idea that came to mind simply because Zach had published an article on this precise topic the week before – and I wanted to test you out).
Admittedly, your version of the article wasn’t super detailed or well written (more on that later). But the proofreading strategies you came up with? They checked out, my friend. They were legit.
At that point, I honestly didn’t know how to feel about you. Should I fall in love with you – or rue the very day you were born?
But it was very early days in our relationship, and I didn’t want to come on too strong. So, I decided to reserve judgement. And do what any sensible woman would do when someone interesting walks into their lives:
I internet stalked you.
And frankly, Chats, it was the easiest stalk this woman has ever had to do. Because suddenly, everyone – and I mean everyone – with an internet connection had something to say about you. You were in an open relationship with the World Wide Web.
My LinkedIn feed, in particular, was ChatGPT lovesick. And I was lapping up every word.
While well-meaning marketers were rejoicing that they no longer had to hire copywriters, copywriters far and wide were desperately trying to convince their followers (and themselves) that us writers had nothing to worry about. “It’s a tool, not a hostile takeover!” was one copywriter’s sentiment.
I even penned my own (obligatory) ChatGPT post – which caused one or two clients to phone me in a state of panic.
It wasn’t until I understood how you worked that I finally had my ‘ChatGPT Epiphany’.
Okay, you’re clearly the tech genius in this relationship – so of course I don’t know exactly how you work. But I do know this much: you use huge volumes of data from the internet to write stuff. And naturally, that means – from a marketing point of view at least – everything you write makes you sound JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
Don’t believe me? Fine then, I have an example.
When one of my colleagues asked you to “write the About us page for Refresh Marketing” (just for shits and giggles), you cooked up a jargon, buzzword and cliche hotpot. Five paragraphs of meaningless dribble – like this one:
Feels like we’ve all read that somewhere before, right? That’s because we have. A billion, trillion times over.
Yup, you just LURVE your jargon. Don’t you, Chats? And that’s cool. Seriously, no judgement here. You do you.
But that, my friend, is precisely why this copywriter isn’t threatened by you (nor in love with you). It’s more neutral than that. And purely platonic from hereon in.
You see, the secret sauce to our copywriting agency is to go against the grain. To never give our clients copy that’s vanilla or expected. And to steer clear of jargon and cliches at all costs… because we know that crap impresses no one. We also know that, for copy to truly connect and compel people to act, it needs to stop them in their tracks.
And Chats, you can’t do that. (At least not yet, anyway.)
Let me be clear though: I don’t believe all copywriters’ jobs are safe with you in our world. In fact, ‘mediocre’ and SEO-obsessed copywriters should be shaking in their boots right now.
You know the type of writers I’m talking about, don’t you? The ones who churn out rubbish day after day with the sole focus of plastering as many keyword-stuffed blogs on the internet as they can – with no regard whatsoever for actual human readers?
Chats, you write just as well as those writers. Actually, I’d say your grammar, spelling and readability scores would be better most of the time. As for information accuracy? Well, let’s just say this isn’t your strength, but nor is it for some of those SEO-obsessed copywriters either. So let’s call it Even Stephens on that one.
To wrap up this puppy, I want to ‘circle back’ (that cliché was just for you, Chats!) to Zach’s blog post about proofreading. As I said earlier, his version is more detailed and better written than yours. But more than that, it has personality. It’s not just helpful – it’s engaging. It also has Zach’s unique perspectives and examples, best-practice linking and strategic CTAs.
Does Zach wish he knew about you before he started writing it? Probably. You would have saved him a lot of time as he was gathering his thoughts and researching the piece.
But would he have simply cut and pasted your version, tweaked a thing or two and hit publish?
Not a chance in AI hell.
So good luck, Chats. I know you’re going to do great things, and will only get better and better as time goes by. I’ll be watching closely.
And the next time I need a helping hand with some blog topic ideas or a positive word starting with R? You’ll be the first to know.
Your friend (with benefits 😉),