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ChatGPT and the role of PR

Author: Nicky

Twelve PR Co-founder

If you’re reading this I hope you’re checking out different PR agencies to get a feel for what they offer. How well do they write? Can they provide engaging copy?

I asked ChatGPT three questions to write this blog post about octothorpe our “word of the month”. The response is given below, word for word.

If all you want from a PR agency is good copy writing, do you really need an agency? Come to think of it, do you really need a human at all?

Below the copy from ChatGPT I’ve posed some other questions you might want to ask when choosing a PR agency.

A lady pointing to a hashtag sign she is holding up

What is an octothorpe?

An octothorpe is another term for the symbol “#”. It is also sometimes called a hash, pound sign, or number sign, depending on the context in which it is used. The origin of the term “octothorpe” is uncertain, but it is believed to have been coined by engineers at Bell Laboratories in the 1960s, who needed a name for the symbol to use in their computer systems.

In modern times, the octothorpe is widely used in various contexts, such as:

  • In telecommunications, it is used to indicate the start of a new telephone extension number or to denote a specific feature or command within a phone system.
  • In computing, it is used to represent a comment or tag in programming languages, and it is also used in social media to indicate a hashtag.
  • In music notation, it is used to indicate a sharp note.
  • In some countries, such as the United States, it is used to indicate a numerical quantity, such as a weight or a price, when written in shorthand notation.

What impact do hashtags have on marketing success?

Hashtags can have a significant impact on marketing, especially in the digital age where social media plays a crucial role in promoting products and services. Here are some ways hashtags can impact marketing:

  1. Increased visibility: Hashtags can help increase the visibility of your marketing campaigns, especially on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. When you use a hashtag that is relevant to your product or service, it can attract the attention of people who are interested in that topic.
  2. Improved engagement: Using hashtags in your marketing campaigns can also lead to improved engagement with your target audience. This is because people who follow or search for a particular hashtag are more likely to engage with posts that use that hashtag.
  3. Enhanced brand recognition: Consistently using hashtags that are unique to your brand can help build brand recognition and make your brand more memorable to potential customers.
  4. Market research: Hashtags can also be used as a tool for market research. By monitoring relevant hashtags, businesses can gain insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors, which can be used to improve marketing strategies and develop new products.
  5. Campaign tracking: Finally, hashtags can be used to track the success of marketing campaigns. By creating a unique hashtag for a particular campaign, businesses can monitor the number of times the hashtag is used and track the engagement and reach of their marketing efforts.

Overall, hashtags have the potential to make a significant impact on marketing by increasing visibility, improving engagement, enhancing brand recognition, aiding market research, and enabling campaign tracking.

How have hashtags been used in successful marketing campaigns?

One example of a brand that has effectively used hashtags in its marketing is Coca-Cola. The brand has created a variety of successful hashtag campaigns over the years, including the following:

  1. #ShareACoke: This campaign encouraged customers to share photos of themselves with personalized Coca-Cola bottles and cans that featured their names. The hashtag quickly went viral, and customers around the world shared their photos using the hashtag. The campaign helped to build brand recognition and created a sense of personalization that resonated with customers.
  2. #TasteTheFeeling: This campaign focused on the emotions and feelings associated with drinking Coca-Cola. The hashtag was used in a variety of marketing materials, including TV commercials, billboards, and social media posts. By emphasizing the emotional connection that customers have with the brand, Coca-Cola was able to build a stronger relationship with its audience.
  3. #HolidaysAreComing: This hashtag is used in Coca-Cola’s annual Christmas marketing campaign, which features the iconic Coca-Cola truck driving through snowy landscapes. The hashtag is used across all of Coca-Cola’s social media platforms and is a key part of the brand’s holiday marketing efforts.

Overall, Coca-Cola’s effective use of hashtags has helped the brand to build a stronger connection with its audience, increase engagement on social media, and create memorable marketing campaigns. By creating hashtags that are relevant, unique, and easy to remember, Coca-Cola has been able to generate significant buzz around its brand and products.

How have hashtags been used in marketing campaigns that went wrong?

  1. McDonald’s #McDStories: In 2012, McDonald’s launched a hashtag campaign called #McDStories, encouraging customers to share positive experiences they had at the restaurant. However, the campaign quickly backfired when customers began sharing negative stories instead, including complaints about food quality and service.
  2. Susan Boyle’s album launch: In 2012, the hashtag #susanalbumparty was used to promote Susan Boyle’s new album. Unfortunately, the hashtag was misinterpreted as “Su’s Anal Bum Party,” causing widespread social media ridicule and embarrassment for the singer.
  3. Entenmann’s #NotGuilty: In 2014, Entenmann’s used the hashtag #NotGuilty to promote its low-calorie snacks. However, the hashtag was also being used by women to discuss their experiences with domestic violence and rape, causing outrage on social media.
  4. DiGiorno Pizza #WhyIStayed: In 2014, DiGiorno Pizza used the hashtag #WhyIStayed, which was created to raise awareness about domestic violence, to promote its products. The company quickly faced backlash and apologized for their insensitive use of the hashtag.
  5. Adidas’ Boston Marathon #BostonStrong: In 2017, Adidas sent an email to Boston Marathon participants with the subject line “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” and the hashtag #BostonStrong. The email was criticized for being insensitive and trivializing the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

The words and the grammar above, all copied directly from ChatGPT seem faultless. The content seems accurate too. This is a topic we know about, as PR and marketing professionals, so it’s easy to sense-check and evaluate accuracy.

What about topics we don’t know so well? How can we tell if the facts are correct then? And where does the original copy come from, to inform ChatGPT or others like it?

Here we come to the human part of this blog post, my own personal opinion, below.

Tim Harford writing in the FT describes a similar experiment with ChatGPT. David Smerdon an Economist at the University of Queensland asked “What is the most cited economics paper of all time?” to which the answer came “A Theory of Economic History” by Douglass North and Robert Thomas in the Journal of Economic History, 1969. Sounded plausible but wasn’t true. No such paper existed.

ChatGPT can write words with speed and grammatical accuracy. But reputations can be destroyed in moments, and telling a lie, even accidentally through the use of unchecked machine text, is one of the ways to do that.

Do you want to work with nice people? Do you want to build trust and customer loyalty?

What you need is a clever team of experts in your market, people who know how to help other people discover your business in a good, honest fashion.

Sounds like you need a PR agency to me!

Check out some of our other blog posts about communicating truth and brand values:

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