This is the year of ChatGPT. The large language model-based chatbot now boasts more than 100 million users, and that number will likely continue to increase. Already the technology has become a major disruptor in various areas of life, from education, where schools are debating how to draft policies dictating students’ use of the technology, to Hollywood, where writers continue to strike in part due to the looming threat that AI poses to their jobs.
For anyone who has used the technology, the appeal is immediately apparent. ChatGPT feels like the future, with its ability to understand and respond to natural language in a manner that is leaps and bounds beyond that of personal assistants like Siri. I’ve personally had what feels like genuine conversations with it that are as fluid as talking to a flesh-and-blood human.
Of course, the technology has its limitations. ChatGPT’s responses are only as good as its source material, which is why it has been known to make factual errors in its responses. It also isn’t going to provide the most original copy. Its writing is often dull, predictable and full of clichéd word choices and sentence structures. Just ask it to write an attorney bio, and you’ll see that its output is as cookie-cutter as it comes, with phrases like “seasoned partner” and “drawing on his extensive experience.” Mind you, these clichés aren’t necessarily red flags, but an entire block of copy with such sayings leads to a banal bio.
I admit I’m still learning how to best use ChatGPT, so I won’t consider myself an expert. After all, the technology is ever-evolving, and its use cases are constantly expanding. But I have been increasingly experimenting with the software in my day-to-day activities, especially in my role in strategizing and developing content.
Here are several ways I have found ChatGPT to be helpful in supporting law firm content marketing.
Generating thought leadership via law firm blog posts or bylined articles is an essential way to brand yourself as an expert, persuade prospects to contact you, and develop content for social media and Google search. But sometimes the mental faucet runs dry on topic selection.
I have personally found myself in this position. In fact, before I even decided to sit down and tackle this blog post, I asked ChatGPT to generate a list of blog post ideas about current topics impacting legal marketing. As is usually the case, because I’m still easily amazed at the power of this technology, I was in awe of what the software came up with.
Not only did ChatGPT provide a list of quality blog post ideas, but it generated headlines and short blurbs of guidance for each topic. Here are just three of the 12 ideas it came up with:
- The Rise of Virtual Events in Legal Marketing: Discuss the shift from in-person events to virtual platforms in the legal industry, and provide tips for law firms to effectively utilize webinars, online conferences and virtual networking events for marketing purposes.
- Content Marketing in the Age of Misinformation: Examine how the prevalence of misinformation online impacts content marketing for law firms. Discuss strategies to maintain credibility, fact-check content and establish thought leadership in an era of information skepticism.
- Innovative Video Marketing for Law Firms: Highlight the growing trend of using video content in legal marketing efforts. Showcase successful examples of law firms using video to explain complex legal concepts, showcase their expertise and connect with clients.
Ultimately, I decided to write about ChatGPT itself, but any one of these options were totally viable and relevant to the industry.
So, the next time you’re tasked with writing about current trends in your area of practice or a particular industry, ask ChatGPT. At the very least, you might generate ideas that could get the wheels spinning enough for you to formulate your own topic.
Overcoming Writer’s Block
Sometimes you have a topic you know you want to write about, and you even have a sense of what you want to say, but you’re stuck, intimidated by the immense white space of the blank page. ChatGPT can help with that as well.
In the prompt field, start by contextualizing what your writing objective is, such as a blog post, a bylined article or what have you. This can be done like so: “Write a blog post about …”
Next, type out your general thoughts on the subject and key points you want to hit. With lightning speed, ChatGPT will create a piece of content that incorporates your input. In my experiment, in which I asked it to “Write a blog post about how ChatGPT can be used by legal marketers for such things as generating blog post ideas and overcoming writer’s block,” it not only drafted several blocks of copy, but it also created subheads and added a few ideas I hadn’t even considered.
While none of the content you are reading in this blog post was generated by ChatGPT, I saw how my experiment could be helpful for someone struggling to put ideas into sentences and paragraphs. In this way, it provided some good options for getting started and organizing the information.
I would definitely urge against having ChatGPT write your content for you. Once again, it might contain inaccuracies, and its style will be devoid of personal touches that can make your own content a reflection of your unique brand. But it’s a great tool for helping you get over the hump that often befalls writers, especially when there are a dozen other demands vying for your attention.
Expanding Your Knowledge Base
I know I mentioned that ChatGPT is less than perfect when it comes to providing fact-based information, but despite that caveat, it can still serve as a quality tool for sourcing information to help you better understand a topic, especially a complex one.
Take, for example, a project I recently worked on: I had to help draft a webpage for a practice group that focuses on the oil and gas industry. I am not at all an expert on oil and gas companies, their legal needs or industry challenges. I did interview a subject matter expert to draft the piece, but I didn’t want to waste their valuable and limited time by asking the most basic of questions, like the meaning of the terms “downstream,” “midstream” and “upstream.”
So, I turned to ChatGPT to learn more about the fundamentals of the industry. In addition to getting definitions for those terms, I also learned about the types of companies involved in the oil and gas sector and terminology that is frequently used among its professionals. This helped me write a better practice description using language and concepts that connected with the intended audience.
Because we can’t be experts on everything, law firm content creators can use this tactic to familiarize themselves with general, well-established concepts and language that will resonate with their target readers. You’ll also want to consider taking steps to fact-check the information, such as passing it by a colleague who has knowledge of the subject matter.
Means to an End
These are just a few ways that ChatGPT can act as a tool to enhance your law firm content strategy and development activities. As you can see, it’s not about having the software write content for you; it’s about leveraging its capabilities to assist you in your own writing.
Be aware that the quality and utility of what you get out of ChatGPT varies depending on the detail and clarity of your prompts. For me, learning how to write prompts that get me the output I want, or ones that further revise the initial output, has been a trial-and-error endeavor. That said, many resources provide best practices for drafting ChatGPT prompts.
For further help with your law firm’s content strategy and content development, contact me, Keith Ecker, SVP Marketing & Branding, at email@example.com.