Does AI Spell the End of UK Copywriters?
Among UK copywriters and their clients, a new piece of tech has sparked a lot of discussion recently: ChatGPT, an AI-driven chatbot currently in its testing phase. Simply give the program a prompt and it will generate relevant content in mere seconds.
The convenience and flexibility of ChatGPT, and other similar platforms, has raised the question of whether UK copywriters are now an endangered species. After all, if you can generate huge amounts of content very rapidly, all for free, why would you pay a human to do the same thing? Does AI spell the end for creative copywriting?
Well, I’m here to argue that there’s still a place for a human touch in copywriting. In fact, far from being a binary choice between machine and man, the future of UK copywriting hinges on the intelligent use of these tools. A partnership that can produce the most engaging and relevant writing possible and take our offerings to the next level.
The potential for the man + machine model extends far beyond mere content creation. Deciding how a brand should present itself to the world with words is the most challenging and interesting part of my work. It includes strategic messaging and tone of voice workshops. And it’s made easier and the outcomes are more effective when I partner with AI. (More on that in another post).
A threefold look at the future of copywriting
The way I see it, there will be three tiers of UK copywriters moving forward.
The first is for those who aren’t fussed about the quality of their copy and are just looking for high volume for low effort. This will inevitably lead to an almost exclusive use of AI. Just plug in your prompts and use whatever the computer spits back at you. The copy won’t necessarily be good but it’ll be quick and convenient to create.
Likely, this usage of AI will spell the end for low-quality copywriters and force everyone to raise their game. A rising tide lifts all ships and all that.
The second tier will lead to a whole new area of specialisation — AI content polishers. These are UK copywriters who edit AI-created content to make it feel more human and emotional. This is something of a middle ground. While it will produce decent content, at the end of the day, you can’t polish a… well, you know the rest.
The third tier is reserved for the most challenging, strategic, important, and technical writing. These projects–such as strategic messaging and tone of voice development; where creativity, quality, and nuance are a top priority–will continue to be led by skilled human copywriters.
However, the very best UK copywriters will lean into this new tech and find ways to enhance their writing and processes with AI. Not only that, but by staying at the forefront of AI developments, savvy copywriters will be able to offer more effective and comprehensive services to clients. Those clients being business leaders who are keen to harness the abilities of large language models but don’t want to spend many hours mastering the technology.
Might we as UK copywriters be signing our death warrants by engaging with this new technology? It’s coming either way, so get on board or get out of the way. Instead, the question should be: how can we best use this new technology while bridging the gaps that machines are unable to span?
Emotional intelligence and the Art of Persuasion
Studies repeatedly show that people make decisions based on emotions rather than logic. That’s why great copywriting is about the art of persuasion — crafting compelling narratives that steer readers’ emotional thinking and behaviour. By influencing customers’ feelings, companies can make their products and services more memorable and appealing, while building a loyal consumer base.
While AI can write matter-of-fact content, human copywriters weave a sense of authenticity, nuance, and subtlety into their work that is lacking in AI-generated content. The real skill of a top-tier UK copywriter is taking copy and polishing it to a gleaming, empathetic shine, ultimately connecting with readers on a much deeper and more human level. It’s not about replacement — it’s about integration.
Long-term strategic thinking
Good copywriters can also contribute to a brand’s long-term marketing strategy by using their skill with the written word. This includes bringing to life and maintaining a consistent brand voice, anticipating future market changes, being connected with the zeitgeist and current trends, and building strong relationships with clients.
AI can spit out ideas based on prompts, but it can’t as yet align with your wider marketing strategy and goals to produce content that is cohesive with your brand vision. You need a human copywriter, assisted by powerful AI, to work their magic on that.
Collaboration and teamwork (UK copywriters have the edge)
Working together is key for any successful business relationship, particularly given that humans seek authentic interaction and feel it keenly when it is lacking. Think about the difference between using a self-checkout compared with a human cashier. The difference is night and day.
Now, this isn’t to say that working with a machine is always off-putting. Let’s be realistic — self-checkouts are a great tool that keep lengthy queues at bay. But, that’s the point: AI is merely a tool. It is there to help achieve outcomes but it cannot build a team, create a healthy workplace environment, or meaningfully connect with your audience.
That’s where human copywriters come in. They work alongside other marketing professionals, designers, clients, and readers to deliver the highest quality writing, achieving the best results through collaboration.
Adaptability and learning
Yes, one of the big advantages of AI is that it learns over time and produces better results. However, it is unable to implement constructive feedback or pick up on slight nuances in the way a human writer can. Good luck telling a computer that you want the copy to be a bit more “bouncy”.
Side note, please don’t ever tell a copywriter you’d like the content to be more “bouncy” or “vivacious” or any other kind of nebulous adjective. There’s a good chance they’ll swing something “bouncy” at you if you do.
A word of warning: using AI-generated content may lead to inadvertently producing content that does not align with a brand’s values or ethical stance. Without human oversight, there is potential for a machine to churn out harmful or insensitive content without understanding the issues. In fact, we’ve already seen cases of this exact scenario playing out in the real world. Plus, portraying AI-generated content as written by a person is a thorny ethical issue all of its own and raises questions about trust and credibility.
AI doesn’t spell the end for human writers. At the lower end of the market, some businesses will come to rely solely on generative AI models such as ChatGPT. They will of course miss out on the value of working with an experienced UK copywriter. But for ambitious organisations that see language as an important part of their brand strategy, the future of powerful, persuasive marketing will come from a combination of man plus machine. In this space, organisations will be able to enjoy agency-level creative and strategic writing services provided by a small team for a much lower cost.
Pandora’s box has been opened, the technology is there and it’s up to us to embrace it or risk getting left behind. Purposeful, intelligent use of AI tools will help elevate the best copywriters into more effective communicators, in the process giving their clients the edge in a noisy, competitive world. The future’s bright. Get your sunnies out.
Need a machine, sorry – a human, to elevate your brand language? Get in touch and let’s make it happen.