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AI chatbot tools have been making headlines, but can they really do the job of human communications professionals?

Since launching in November 2022, the artificial intelligence (AI) content generator known as ChatGPT has had people talking. No matter the platform, ChatGPT is likely in your newsfeed. 

Twitter users have shared how they’ve asked the bot to tackle coding questions or write a sitcom script based on a series of prompts. Educators and school administrators are wrestling with how to handle students using the app to write papers and complete other assignments. CNN is posting stories with headlines like “Real estate agents say they can’t imagine working without ChatGPT now.”

No question about it, ChatGPT can write in seconds what would take most of us hours to complete—essays, job applications, and real estate listings are just the start. And it’s doing it well enough that many people can’t tell the difference between something written by a person and something generated by the bot.

ChatGPT and its role in business

A photo of our Web Developer, Roberto, working on a client project.

And so, the world is abuzz over the potential of ChatGPT to take over human tasks, cutting resourcing needs and giving the boot to the person behind the screen. 

Ethan Mollick, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in the Harvard Business Review that when he asked ChatGPT to give examples of businesses that will benefit from AI, it listed the following:

  • Journalism and publishing
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Consulting and finance
  • Any business that requires high-quality written materials essential to communicating with clients and stakeholders

But can AI completely replace the roles that humans have in business? Our Communications team at Be the Change Group doesn’t think so. Here are three reasons why.

Reason #1: ChatGPT is task-based. Our work is human-centred.

Everyone who’s written about the possibilities of ChatGPT seems to agree on one thing–it’s most helpful when you’re doing routine or repetitive tasks that can be easily automated. Think data entry and processing, basic customer support, and simple content creation, like online real estate listings or FAQ pages. 

For a research, strategy, and creative agency like Be the Change Group, simple, repetitive content creation tasks are a tiny part of what we do. The work we do is human centred. When clients hire us for projects that involve complex research and analysis, strategic communications, and design, we immerse ourselves in our clients’ challenges and the communities they serve.

A photo taken in the Downtown Eastside by Be the Change Group.

Whether our target audiences are in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside population, a camp for internally displaced people in South Sudan, or rural communities in the BC Interior, our Research + Community Engagement team works hard to ensure that their voices are heard and that the solutions we develop are practical and applicable to their lives. 

Reason #2: ChatGPT can’t build relationships 

Our experience and ability to build relationships with others—meaning our colleagues, our clients, and often, the communities they serve, is just as important as the solutions that we produce.

Matt Turner, content and copy lead, and strategist at Be the Change Group, works closely with one of our clients, Skills and Education Group, to develop custom website and publications content—on brand and in a voice specific to the organization, its staff, and its customers. Sure, it’s a lot of writing, but it’s also face-to-face communication—online, in the office, and over dinner—that includes swapping stories, jokes, and personal experiences. 

No matter the client, if Matt works with them he knows their people, their brands, and their needs after years of collaboration and they trust him to deliver. 

While ChatGPT can be used to generate copy, it can’t replace the knowledgeable and trusted human writer who can quickly assess a client’s pain points; discard any information irrelevant to solving the problem (an often underrated skill); consider the personality, history, and outlook of the client; and come up with a solution that meets clients where they are, and more importantly their intended audience and communities—all while throwing in a few jokes to make those Monday morning meetings a little less boring. 

Our Content and Copy Lead, and Strategist, Matt having a laugh over coffee with our President and Research Director, Natalie.

“On a recent trip to Tunisia, some school kids had a rather jolly time insulting me roundly, with my particular favourite being, ‘Your father is Rambo!’ Little did they know, I live in the town where First Blood was filmed—so the joke’s on them, I guess. Surely not an experience any AI platform could share with a client.”

– Matt Turner, content and copy lead, and strategist at Be the Change Group

Reason #3: ChatGPT doesn’t come with a built-in fact checker 

Anyone who’s built a career as a writer, editor, or communications professional knows that being able to fact-check what you write and cite your sources is crucial to ensuring the accuracy and credibility of your work. 

But ChatGPT didn’t go to journalism school, and its relationship to fact-checking is loose at best. After a scan of articles about ChatGPT, we found the following:

  • If it doesn’t know the answer, it’ll give you some BS that sounds convincing instead, without listing its sources or, in some cases, making facts up. This issue has been identified by OpenAI, the developers of ChatGPT. 
  • It draws its extensive knowledge from the internet, so the answers that come back can be biased depending on what it finds, as noted in this Medium article.
  • Its knowledge base currently ends in 2021. Past that, ChatGPT doesn’t know what’s happening around the world. Several stories have noted this, including this one in BBC Science Focus. 

What does this mean for businesses that use ChatGPT? Well, it can’t be counted on for content that requires factual and up-to-date information. As ChatGPT is now, the content it generates must be double-checked for credibility and accuracy. Just ask tech news site CNET, which learned that lesson the hard way

A close up of material being reviewed for a client of Be the Change Group.

At least for now, Chat GPT is a valuable tool at best

Relying on ChatGPT for content creation can be risky, but we can’t lie and say it doesn’t have any benefits. From what we’ve seen, it can be a time-saving tool for anyone whose work involves creating simple low-stakes written materials. It can also provide a jumpstart if you’re struggling with writer’s block and need to see some words on the page to get your creative juices flowing. See what these Reddit users had to say about using ChatGPT at work:

Source: This reddit thread for users who are in marketing

Advanced enough to understand how to write in a specific style or tone of voice, ChatGPT can also adapt to user commands as they change, building on its own work to meet user needs. In short, it has seemingly endless potential. 

But tools are still just tools. And people crave authenticity and the sense of human connection that comes from person-to-person communication. Our clients trust our work because they know that we empathize with and understand the experiences of the people and communities they serve. AI can’t give you that. 

So although we’re curious about the benefits that ChatGPT can offer to businesses like ours, we don’t believe that they’ll take over the humans behind the work. After all, there’s a lot more to communications than just words. If there weren’t, the dictionary would be the greatest story ever told. 

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