AI for Good? One Week of Experimenting with ChatGPT

It’s impossible to scroll through your social feed or open an email without hearing about the pros, cons and perils of ChatGPT, an “artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022.” But can nonprofits actually use it in their day-to-day communications work in an ethical way? For one week, I put it to the test! Now I’ll share how I used it, what I learned, what I think it means for the future of our work as communicators. Let’s chat (haha)!

Monday, April 10, 9:12 a.m.: I download ChatGPT. A historic moment! Here goes something. I immediately put it to the test and start getting to know my new “friend” a bit better. I usually learn best by diving straight in. It looks slightly reminiscent of AIM Instant Messenger (where my Millennials at?). I’m crafting some Instagram ad copy for a campaign and use it to “brainstorm” some ideas. I prompted the chat with the overall theme and goal of the campaign. From there, I gave it a few key messages as inspo. The result? Some solid ideas for headlines and copy for the ads. I don’t use these ideas word-for-word, but instead as a foundation for the direction of what I want to write. 10/10 experience, saved me a ton of time!

Wednesday, April 12, 6:07 p.m.: My co-worker Maura and I attend a packed panel discussion about ChatGPT and AI that features leaders in tech, education and marketing. It was incredibly informative and enlightening. The biggest takeaway? “You need to embrace this technology or else you’ll be left behind.” Sounds scary, but ChatGPT is truly more of a help than harm. More on that later.

Thursday, April 13, 2:41 p.m.: Two more team members, Maura and Laura, download ChatGPT! Another historic moment.

Friday, April 14, 4:02 p.m.: My schedule is packed with campaign planning. Today, I give ChatGPT another spin. I need ideas for a catchy title for a training workshop. I prompt the chat with the workshop theme, goals and a few key messages. ChatGPT spits out some ideas. The titles need a little bit of work but don’t miss the mark by much. It has my wheels turning and I probably saved 20 minutes coming up with these ideas on my own. Success!

Bonus: For fun, I looked up some gluten-free lunch ideas. To say I went down a quinoa rabbit-hole is an understatement. Thanks for meal planning for me, ChatGPT! I rate your skills 9/10.

In my very brief week of learning about, using and having fun with ChatGPT here are my key takeaways:

Use ChatGPT as a starting point, not a finished product. As writers we know our first draft is never our best draft. To be an ethical communicator, you can’t rely on ChatGPT to do all of the work for you. Similarly, nothing will replace the impactful stories we tell about the communities we work for every day. That authenticity is something that will always be the heartbeat of our work. Think of ChatGPT as someone you can brainstorm a creative idea with. Maybe you have two roads you want to go down and need to determine which is a better path. ChatGPT can guide you to the road best traveled.

Writer’s block? ChatGPT can un-block you. There’s nothing worse than a staring at a blank Word Doc for so long that your eyes hurt. Good news! ChatGPT can rearrange your words and phrases to get you unstuck quicker than you would on your own. This could be useful for writing grants, social media posts and even an important email you want to change the tone of.

ChatGPT provides data, but it’s on us to analyze it. You know how you learned that Wikipedia doesn’t always tell you the facts in school? ChatGPT is similar. We can’t know how and why ChatGPT provides us with the information it gathers – or what is missing. It will always be important for us to learn, practice and improve our critical thinking and media literacy muscles. With each ChatGPT interaction, it’s important to have a healthy dose of skepticism about the information it provides you. Your job is to decipher if it’s accurate.

Our future includes embracing this technology. Whether we like it or not, the use of ChatGPT and AI technologies are rapidly evolving how we perform at work. We can use ChatGPT to work smarter and faster. Maybe you’re a nonprofit professional who is constantly strapped for time. ChatGPT can be helpful in completing tasks that would otherwise take up more time than they are worth. Consider AI part of working smarter not harder.

My final piece of advice? You don’t have to be scared of ChatGPT. We’re all on this journey together and the more of us who are experimenting and learning, the faster our path to mastery.

Written by Zoe Clemmons, Strategy Associate at Barefoot PR.

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