Reflecting on ChatGPT

Two weeks ago, I had never heard about ChatGPT, and then it started appearing in my newsfeed. People were talking about it quite a bit. It’s less than a month old, and it is still really new. But make no mistake, its impact is going to be significant.

I have spent the last week digesting and reflecting on the development, and we’ll get into my thoughts in a minute. But first, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, here’s the official information:

What is ChatGPT

ChatGPT, without getting too complicated, is a language-generation software that’s been designed to carry on conversations with people.

It is a product of OpenAI, which they hope will have far-reaching impacts.

Our mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.


I have heard some people compare this development to the advent of search engines in terms of how much that changed the way we searched on the web.

By asking a question or giving brief directions, the platform can spit out lots of answers in sentence-form incredibly fast. That is impressive.

For the higher education leaders in the room, it can impact how we think about the following, to name a few:

  • Marketing copy
  • Feature stories
  • Academic essays
  • Answers to quizzes

It doesn’t take long to see the power in this development, but there is also quite a bit to process and think through before using it.

A Few Examples

Here are a few examples of the marketing copy that ChatGPT wrote for me in a matter of seconds:

Query: Write a social media post about the university’s late night pancake breakfast

Query: Write 2-3 sentences of marketing copy about the university’s program in art and design.

Query: The university tagline is be you. Write copy for an ad about how the university helps students be the best version of themselves.

What Next for Marketers?

Love it or hate it — I think it’s safe to say this is game changer. For teams with strapped resources and little time, this tool is going to be used to write copy for their areas.

And truth be told, I probably will use it too. Copywriting is something I have to do a lot. It’s not my favorite exercise, and I spend hours trying to come up with the right phrase or tone. This will help save time.

How This Impacts Academe?

How this unfolds in an academic context is also going to be incredibly interesting.

I asked ChatGPT to write 200 words about my dissertation topic– the enrollment cliff. That was a bust. It didn’t understand the topic, so I got wrong information. That has been a critique from several users testing it out.

However, I asked ChatGPT to explain the history of musicals, and I got a pretty strong essay about musicals, their history, and popular options.

Using ChatGPT in an academic context creates all sorts of questions around intellectual property, academic integrity, plagiarism, and the like. I suspect many users will be watching closely to see how it plays out.

Best Practices for ChatGPT

As I’ve wrestled with my own use of ChatGPT and what it means for my team, I have three takeaways that I think are critical when using this tool:

  1. This is a tool — And like any other tool, it’s designed to aid and assist your efforts. It should help you, not do all the work for you. I find the tool helps me to generate various ideas quickly. For example, when writing copy earlier this week — I asked a similar command several times, getting slightly different versions of the same thing. That allowed me to build something that best fit the audience and the entity I was writing about. I think for AI copy to really work, we need to use it as a tool to support us and not use it as a replacement for our human thoughts.
  2. Strategy is Human — ChatGPT writes pretty decent copy, but only I, as the human, can set the strategy. The copy I get is only as good as the strategy and direction I set. The better you know your audience, key phrases that matter, and the tone you want to set — the better the output of the AI tool. If you ask it to write copy without giving it much guidance, you’ll get pretty generic copy. What sets good copy apart from average is strategy. And that is simply human.
  3. Share Sparingly — We as marketers have spent so much time the last few years proving our worth and getting a seat at the table. We need to be cognizant that we don’t want to lessen that work by implying this tool can take the craft out of copywriting. I can see a world where it could devalue the work we do because it becomes another way that everyone becomes a marketer. A photographer. A videographer. This tool, when coupled with human strategy, can be helpful to our teams who understand the nuances of messaging. Let’s make sure our external audiences understand this is a tool in our toolbox and not a replacement for copywriting.

What are Your Thoughts?

This conversation is just getting started, and I’m really curious what you think about ChatGPT and how you might be using it.

Feel free to connect. I’d love to chat more!

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