The value of human creativity in the age of AI

by Sophie Cole

image overlay

AI has been one of the most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century. Implemented in the right ways, it could empower us to work smarter and more efficiently, freeing our time for tasks that are more fulfilling or require niche expertise.

AI tools are useful, but they’re far from perfect. Skilled humans remain an essential part of creating genuinely thoughtful, high-ranking and unique content. Here’s why the human touch is an essential part of content creation – and how AI is supercharging many parts of the process for written communications agencies like Stratton Craig.

Levelling the playing field

Generative AI has made great communication far more accessible. It helps those who aren’t natural creatives whip up a coherent email, distil chaotic meeting minutes into clear actions and present clear points in that crucial presentation. Writing and communicating are skills lots of people find incredibly hard, but almost every job requires them in some way. You can’t have a personal copywriter handle every tricky email – but tools such as Google’s Gemini and OpenAI’s ChatGPT can help you communicate in a clear, professional and diplomatic way.

There isn’t much AI can’t (try to) do, yet humans remain an essential cog in the mechanics of content creation

Generative AI’s creative abilities have commanded headlines, but the technology’s most exciting applications make dull, labour-intensive and time-consuming work (that nobody really wants to do) simpler and faster. Fireflies can take automatic meeting minutes, offering a summary of key points and a full transcript almost immediately after. Tome can help you whip up a presentation, allowing you to prepare for a meeting, pitch or conference in far less time. Some AI tools can even summarise a YouTube video, allowing you to grab insights from incredible minds in minutes. But one common trait unites them all: they’re made to summarise and present existing information.

There isn’t much AI can’t (try to) do, yet humans remain an essential cog in the mechanics of content creation. So, what are the consequences if you take writers out of the equation?

Standing out in a sea of same

While democratising writing is a win for accessibility, it’s making it harder for businesses to stand out. One of the biggest issues with widescale generative AI use is that websites, adverts and social media could become bland and homogenous. AI literally cannot ‘think’ for itself, so it can only ever suggest content made from existing information, rather than suggesting an entirely fresh creative concept.

With many users inputting simple and similar prompts, every marketing, engineering or retail business will start to sound the same. The human touch will ensure your copy captures the nuance and unique facets of your business, so you can say something genuinely different.

Getting effective results from AI also requires good digital literacy. Gemini, for example, appears as intuitive to use as Google. But to produce something that’s ready for a professional polish, generative AI requires a clear, detailed prompt, which generally needs to be refined repeatedly.

Asking it to ‘write a blog about inflation in the UK’ won’t create an engaging and informative output for your specific audience. It could be too technical, or too much of a history piece, rather than a topical commentary on recent rises and what they mean for borrowers or shoppers. AI should be seen as a tool to establish a good information baseline (which needs to be fact-checked) to springboard you into the creative process.

The value of AI in content generation

AI is to writing what a calculator is to mathematics. Both make the basics more accessible, but a humble Casio does not a mathematician make. AI can streamline the research process, ignite the creative spark and help organise ideas – letting skilled writers dedicate client’s time to producing genuinely original writing that reaches the right eyes.

Without some human intervention, your content is at risk of getting lost under billions of other pages

It can be hard to judge generative AI’s output without expert insights. AI can be unreliable, throwing out hallucinations that sound incredibly convincing with little or no factual basis. It also creates content that looks great, but quickly reveals itself as generic, overly academic or as a tired rehash when placed under expert scrutiny. Professional writers will bolster AI’s hollow shell with evidenced statements, a fresh angle and nuanced links back to your key message.

Perhaps the most important reason why AI shouldn’t handle all aspects of content creation is to prevent ‘spammy pages’. Practices like adding hidden links, excessive ads and overly monetised content have always been penalised with poor rankings. As of October 2023, Google will also take a dim view of “automatically generated content with little added value” and article scraping. Without some human intervention, your content is at risk of getting lost under billions of other pages.

Building long-term relationships with content creators, or investing in human-created content that delivers value for years to come, is still important. Having a content expert on hand that understands your business, and what makes it special to your audience, will always be invaluable.

How we’re approaching AI implementation

At Stratton Craig, we’ve spent the last year exploring the many ways AI can help us improve our most tedious processes. Senior writer Colm, who has 15 years of experience writing about complex, technical topics, has been leading the charge through our AI Taskforce. He explained that AI can be likened to an “enthusiastic but inexperienced intern”, who can take on time-consuming work such as initial research or summarising notes, but needs a significant amount of supervision and direction.

By using AI for some internal processes, we can enhance our speed and scale to increase the value clients get from our skills, experience and strategic insight

Colm believes that generative AI is an important tool for any creative. It gets you to the interesting part of the process, the creative part, in a much more efficient way and can save a lot of headaches when it comes to things like organising call transcripts or creating content outlines. But AI-generated content should always serve only as a starting point and all claims made by AI still need to be stringently verified. As a team, we’re optimistic AI will soon streamline our account management processes too – potentially putting much-maligned timesheets to bed.

“To us, AI is a complementary tool,” says Colm. “Our clients value our content creation and strategy expertise, not the behind-the-scenes admin we do. By using AI for some internal processes, we can enhance our speed and scale to increase the value clients get from our skills, experience and strategic insight.”

 

Get in touch to find out how we can help you create standout written communications in the age of AI.

Get in touch. Let us know how we can help.