Stop writing in Marketing Speak that a machine can probably write better

AI creep is coming to us all and the advent of ChatGPT has certainly got everyone with or without writer’s block talking. So, should PR Agencies and Marketing Pros in the B2B world be worried? Perhaps they should stop writing copy in Marketing Speak that sounds as if it has been machine generated – and get back to using words as tools to convey ideas.

Given enough monkeys with enough time and enough keyboards, the Infinite Monkey Theorem claimed that the monkeys could write the complete works of Shakespeare or at least Hamlet. Tech moved on from the monkeys.

The advent of ChatGPT has been inevitable. Technology was making plagiarism too easy. Google it, cut and paste it, edit it and woh, you have your own version of the truth. Enter ChatGPT that will do it all for you!

ChatGPT is the first of many

The media is all over ChatGPT – probably out of a guilty conscience. I’m going to leave aside the ethics and legitimacy of using such tools to cheat in examinations and coursework – cheating has always been done, technology just made it a little harder to detect. But the “cheats” that pass their finals magna cum laude will have to pass the life test!

My attention is on human generated copy and the growth of Marketing Speak into copy that already sounds as if a machine generated it.

Look at these statements, generated way back in 2014 by the original Business Buzz Word Generator pioneered by the Wall Street Journal.

“Next quarter we will launch our new alignment-killer which will silo the vector holistically” and “Moving forward the marketplace has changed. Gamify vertically or innovate.” Funnily enough, nearly 10 years on, and they still resonate!

Language must live

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the development of language and the power of words to change attitudes as in female emancipation versus gender, celebrities versus influencers, and I look forward each year to the new words added to the Oxford and Merriam Webster dictionaries – reserving my right to not agree with all of them.

PR language has to evolve – the drumbeat, rolling thunder, tangible business outcomes, low hanging fruit, fleshing out detail, singing from the same hymn sheet, nuggets of information – love them all (apart from the “tangible business outcomes” which still bewilders me).

The problem isn’t that machines write like humans – it’s that humans often write like machines

ChatGPT is a wake-up call to stop writing copy in PR Speak, Marketing Speak, Corporate Speak, and to start using words to convey ideas.

There are a number of Marketing and PR Pros, and hacks, that truly do deserve to be quaking in their PR shoes, only too easily writing in corporate Marketing Speak. ChatGPT is the ultimate Wordsmith – and PR Agencies and Marketing Pros must be more than Wordsmiths – a demeaning descriptor for any writer. The implication is that writers, bloggers, content creators just produce copy that has been cranked out by someone with no interest in the subject being paid by the word. A machine can do that!

Writing comes with intention, and eyeballs is everything

But in PR and Marketing, we’re mostly writing about ideas and concepts, solutions and issues, and comments that shed light on issues.

Yes, we’re using words, just like any AI bot. Of course this requires coherence, something that ChatGPT excels at. But coherence is not enough.

In marketing we’re not trying to pass exams, we’re trying to influence, build marketing and corporate messages, deliver hidden agendas to our press releases that get across more than just a product launch. We’re trying to win the award, drive (often several overlaid) company messages – green adoption, ESG strategies, citizen data scientist, whatever, to pioneer change – and demonstrate corporate leadership in that change.

In marketing, coherence is not enough

Communication for marketeers is more complex and more precise. Often a single piece of press material needs to support a number of different company messages and at the same time to sell itself to several different precisely targeted audiences – an editor, a potential buyer, and a C-level ratifier.

Getting this right requires more than coherence. Tools such as robots and AI have always had a role, from the factory floor to the trading floor. The same applies to marketing. But communicating the success of our clients also needs the mixture of flare, discipline, and emotional intelligence that comes instinctively to top marketing professionals and to top salesmen.


ChatGPT can be so persuasively wrong that Stack Overflow, a platform for developers to get help writing code, banned users from posting answers generated by the chatbot. “The primary problem,” wrote the moderators, “is that while the answers which ChatGPT produces have a high rate of being incorrect, they typically look like they might be good.” Exam sitters take note!

ChatGPT could also probably make a convincing fist of drafting the now essential apologies  that seems to be required of politicians and celebrities.

Also, I understand that ChatGPT is not good at jokes so the growth in Slam Poets is safe, and apparently ChatGPT can’t meme – yet!

Judith Ingleton-Beer is CEO at IBA International

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