CPA Growth Trends

Beginner’s Guide: ChatGPT and Real-World Writing

Talk to any accounting marketer and they will likely tell you one of their greatest challenges is content creation. By identifying top issues and writing articles to feature on website blogs, social media channels, and in email campaigns we can offer value to our clients, potential clients, and broader audiences. It is also the way we showcase our professionals and specialized services identified for strategic growth.

A new artificial intelligence (AI) tool called ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is creating a frenzy and some serious questions as it goes viral, causing many to ponder its implications across multiple industries, including the marketing world.

How it Works

ChatGPT had its public launch late last year. According to media reports, it is now backed by an over $10 billion investment from Microsoft Corporation. Created by the company OpenAI, the technology can reportedly take a simple question and generate everything from a school paper to the answer to a complex math problem. It is said to be able to spit out content that is well written and sounds more like a human being than the awkward and sometimes clunky language we often experience with chatbots.

Could this AI tool be the answer for accounting marketers in need of a content writer? If you are curious, you can try it for yourself. ChatGPT is said to be in research preview and free to use right now.

Important Considerations

ChatGPT sources information that is pulling from somewhere: some content that already exists. These sources are said to include books, newspapers, and even a snapshot of the internet from 2021. ChatGPT reportedly takes all that information and very quickly creates a piece of content.

Content marketer Ann Gynn wanted to test ChatGPT. She is the founder of G Force Communication and an editorial consultant for the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) daily blog. In a recent CMI blog post she asked ChatGPT to create some content for her. She says the writing was surprisingly good, and she has now incorporated ChatGPT as one of her marketing tools.

“I sometimes use ChatGPT as a brainstorming aid for my client work,” she says. “Sometimes I run out of ideas or fresh angles on topics. ChatGPT’s AI text sometimes can include a nugget in its content that could lead me to a new story angle or bring up something I hadn’t considered or written about. Then, I can do the work to create a fully-fleshed article with original sources.”

It is fair to say that Ann views ChatGPT as a helpful research tool, but not as a replacement for a writer. If ChatGPT is pulling information from some other written content online, that is not original content. You could ask a follow-up question of ChatGPT to cite sources, but would you be 100% confident your blog article was accurate and not plagiarized?

I asked Ann what she would say to accounting marketers considering ChatGPT.

“Similar to how I use it, ChatGPT can help accounting firm marketers identify topics and angles to cover on those subjects that you must write about again and again. I would never rely on it for current accounting-related laws and regulations as it only pulls from information 2021 and earlier. I also think ChatGPT can be a helpful resource in explaining accounting-related concepts and terms to a general audience. Too often, accounting firm content gets bogged down in the technical. ChatGPT can make it more user friendly.”

My Take

ChatGPT as it exists now is a powerful new tool for accounting marketers. You may find it helpful with your marketing strategy and planning, for investigating, better understanding and communicating accounting regulations, as part of your SEO strategy and many other marketing initiatives.

As for long-form content creation, I say “thanks, but no thanks” for several reasons. First, there is too much risk. When you write your own content (or hire a writer to do it for you) there is no question the content is original.

Second, I also happen to enjoy writing. This may be the English major in me talking, but rather than leaning on AI to write for you, why not consider a writing class to grow your own skills? I promise you, writing skills are in great demand and will serve you well your entire career, no matter where that career takes you.

And some final thoughts on why you are a better writer than ChatGPT: you are a human being who brings creativity, emotion, and original thought to your writing. Then there is the ethical factor. Like it or not, you are essentially a reporter trusted to be the authentic voice of your firm, your brand and your people. Are you ready to hand that responsibility over to a machine?

Susan Ross Wells is a communications director with CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP), bringing over three decades of communications, journalism, and marketing experience to her role. CLA exists to create opportunities for our clients, our people, and our communities through our industry-focused wealth advisory, digital, audit, tax, consulting, and outsourcing services. Investment advisory services are offered through CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors, LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor.