Think ChatGPT Makes Journalists Obsolete in Digital Marketing? Think Again.

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Oh, technology is coming for my job? Been there, done that.

Journalists have always been at the forefront of change, adapting to new technologies and finding innovative ways to tell stories. So it's no surprise that we're well-equipped to utilize the latest technological wonder: AI language generators such as ChatGPT.

But how can journalists—and content creators in general—use this and other chat bots to enhance their writing, reporting, and research? Let’s take a closer look.

No One Pivots Like A Journalist

The unseen forces of technological advancement have always had it in for journalists. It all started in the early 1990s, when the Internet first lurched forward, marking the beginning of the online news era. Things really got dire in the early to mid-2000s, when social media presented new ways to share and receive information. But Facebook (and Google) didn’t just change news by making newspapers seemingly less relevant, they vacuumed up the majority of online ad revenue, sending the traditional media ecosystem into a spiral.

And so began the decline of print advertising—the main lifeline of the newsroom as we knew it. The digital advertising revenue that was available to local and regional outlets couldn't fully replace the revenue stream that newspapers historically relied on, and once-mighty papers across the country folded, landing many journalists on hold with their local unemployment office.

To the outside observer, it seemed as if journalism was dying—if not dead already. But the truth is more complicated.

If you’ve ever spent time with a journalist—either voluntarily or out of sheer obligation—you would know that it takes very little to sustain us. A handful of well-timed meals. A few hours of uninterrupted sleep. A pair of moderately comfortable shoes. We’ll always recharge and bounce back, ready to return to the beat and hit our deadlines.

And return we did. We adapted to the seismic shift in the news-reporting landscape. Some of us held fast and recalibrated our talents to fit into the online narrative, while others among us found new ways to use our words and research skills to pay the bills. Many of us are now thriving in the land of content marketing, developing blogs, site pages, email campaigns, case studies and more, strategically chasing down SEO optimization the same way we once chased down indispensable sources. And it's those journalistic skills that make us perfectly adept at leveraging ChatGPT and other emerging technologies to our advantage.

ChatGPT & Other AI Generators: A Brave New World Or The End Times?

To excel as a professional journalist, one must possess a strong sense of history. When you understand the past, it informs your work in the present. So, anyone who shuddered in fear when they first tried out ChatGPT was right to do so. Personally, the suggestion to experiment with ChatGPT and potentially integrate it into my content generation sent me into convulsed flashbacks. Suddenly it was 2009 or 2010, and my newspaper publisher mandated that we use certain social media channels to encourage readers to “build our next issue” with stories they wanted to read.

There is no way to express the terror I felt.

Reaching out to the public for a quote or a lead on a story is fine, even expected. But anything beyond that constitutes an egregious violation of an unwritten code. At best, it’s questionable, at worst it’s plagiarism—an affront to the tenets of journalism, punishable by immediate termination or worse, assignment to the events calendar.

Asking a robot to contribute to the production of my stories is exponentially worse. Not only is it dishonest to the reader, but the very use of such a tool also undermines the craft itself. What’s more, it’s like raising a wild animal that will eventually devour you. It goes against all instincts of self-preservation.

But I took the ChatGPT suggestion as I would any assignment. Only instead of taking my usual objective approach, I set out to find the bot’s weaknesses and exploit them. I would find obvious violations of journalistic integrity—plagiarism, dishonesty, laziness, etc. The results of my investigation would be twofold: ChatGPT would be exposed and my fears of an AI-generated takeover of my career would be confirmed.

The truth is … ChatGPT does indeed have weaknesses. And it’s precisely those weaknesses that make it the perfect tool for journalists tasked with creating content for clients through digital marketing. What’s more, the way ChatGPT functions underscores the value of having a seasoned journalist on your digital marketing team.

ChatGPT In Digital Marketing: More Assistant Than Advisory

Take the subheadline of this section, and ask ChatGPT for help writing the lede. This is an example of what you might get back:

As the field of digital marketing continues to evolve, businesses are looking for ways to streamline their processes and boost their efficiency. One tool that has gained popularity in recent years is the chatbot. These automated assistants can handle a variety of tasks, from answering customer inquiries to scheduling appointments. However, some marketers worry that chatbots will replace human interaction and undermine the personal touch that is crucial to building strong customer relationships. In this section, we will explore the role of ChatGPT in digital marketing and argue that, far from being an adversary, this AI-powered assistant can be a valuable ally in delivering personalized and effective customer experiences.

Ok, not bad, if a little dry. What if you wanted it to use more engaging, fun, and dynamic language? Ask and you shall receive:

Digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape, and businesses are always on the lookout for new ways to stay ahead of the game. Enter the chatbot—the superhero of automation, capable of handling everything from customer inquiries to scheduling appointments. But with the rise of chatbots, some people are worried that the personal touch of human interaction will be lost. Fear not, dear reader! In this section, we're going to explore the role of ChatGPT in digital marketing and show you why this AI-powered assistant is more of a wingman than an adversary. Get ready to discover how ChatGPT can help you deliver personalized and effective customer experiences that will make your business stand out in a crowded marketplace.

A tad boastful, but fine. However, it’s missing a few keyword phrases that I want to include. Specifically, I need to include inbound marketing, content creation, SEO best practices, Google rankings, and SERPs. Can it handle that?

Are you tired of struggling to keep up with the ever-changing world of inbound marketing? Do you find yourself drowning in the sea of content creation and SEO best practices, all in the hopes of improving your Google rankings and getting to the top of the SERPs? Well, fear not, my friend, because ChatGPT is here to save the day! This AI-powered assistant is more than just a tool—it's your secret weapon for achieving success in the world of digital marketing. With ChatGPT by your side, you can take your content creation to the next level, optimize your SEO strategies like a pro, and boost your Google rankings like never before. So what are you waiting for? Let's dive in and discover how ChatGPT can help you dominate the world of inbound marketing.

Is it perfect? No. Does it have the personal touch that I would bring to a similar passage? No. Is it a good place to start? Yes.

The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that asking loaded follow-up questions can lead the chatbot to give you the answer you want. And it just so happens that asking questions explicitly constructed to elicit a desired response is one of the many skills we learn as journalists. It’s about maneuverability, improvisation, mental dexterity and a brand of unabashed peskiness reserved for those of us that ask questions for a living.

Journalistic Skills That Raise Chatbot’s Functionality

The next time you’re on a call with a potential client and they ask why they should hire you when ChatGPT is right there and so easy to use, tell them you have a journalist on staff who is incredibly proficient in:

  • Research: Journalists are skilled at researching and gathering information. They know how to ask the right questions and seek out sources to get the information they need. This skill translates well to using ChatGPT, where they can ask open-ended questions and receive informative responses.
  • Writing: Journalists are experienced writers, with a strong understanding of language and how to communicate effectively. This makes them skilled at phrasing questions in a way that will elicit a useful response from ChatGPT.
  • Curiosity: Journalists are naturally curious, always looking for new angles and insights. This makes them great at exploring the capabilities of ChatGPT and experimenting with different ways of using the tool.
  • Adaptability: Finally, journalists are used to working in fast-paced, ever-changing environments. They are quick to adapt to new technologies and tools that can help them do their job better, and ChatGPT is no exception. They are eager to explore the potential of this AI tool and incorporate it into their work where appropriate.

This brand of technology isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only going to expand and become more attuned with how the human brain works. There’s no use in running away. Instead, journalists, writers, marketers, etc., would all benefit from getting to know the chatbots as intimately as possible. Embrace that which you fear and you will no longer be afraid. There will always be value in creativity and ingenuity, so let’s utilize this technology by doing what we do best—being pesky humans.