Copywriter vs the machine


The growth of AI and other automation are threatening the human race – in particular, our jobs.

Many believe this is a good thing as it will release people from mundane work and enable them to use their skills elsewhere within a business to drive growth.

Bob Bly, in his recent post, ‘Is the writing profession doomed?’ made an excellent point:

…[the problem with] the party line about automation and robotics “freeing” people from dull, repetitive jobs so they can do more rewarding and creative work…[is that] there are a number of people who don’t have the skills or ability or drive to work at a higher level than the “dull, repetitive” jobs they hold now….so when you “free” them…you move them into permanent and boring unemployment.’

It’s a gloomy picture, but a real possibility.

As a writer, I always felt reasonably safe because a robot simply can’t replicate the content I write. After all, how can they unearth the emotions they need to tap into to make a reader buy?

I felt a sudden chill when in Bob’s article he stated that ‘According to an article in ClickZ, Gartner predicts that by 2018, 20% of all business content will be written by machine.’


Human writer vs the machine

Just to clarify, what follows is purely my opinion, as I have no insight into the development of AI to know how much of a threat it poses.

The way I see it, writing is something that has to be done by a human, especially sales and marketing copy (in fact, any copy that has to drive engagement).

The only way you will get someone to act in a preferred manner (i.e. buy, sign up, etc.) is by pressing their emotional buttons.

It is this trigger that will convince them they must have your product or service if they want to make their life easier.

How can a robot understand that about the human psyche?

Every product and service will (potentially) have a different trigger and finding the right one will make the difference between success and failure.

Then we come on to tone of voice. Every audience needs a different approach, different vocabulary set and a different timbre. Grammar is played with to create effects (sorry grammar pedants, but it’s true). Surely a human can only carry all of that out.

I haven’t even touched on brand personality yet. Every company demands a unique approach because one size doesn’t fit all. It takes time for a writer to ‘get to know’ a company and its foibles so they can be translated into an appropriate approach.

I know AI is way more complex than I can even comprehend, but I hope businesses will value the input a real living and breathing writer can bring to their projects. After all, I’ve yet to meet a robot who’ll sit down with you over coffee and cake to discuss your project.


Sally Ormond is an international copywriter. Working across all industries, she creates on-brand content for on and offline marketing as well as internal communications.