ChatGPT is NOT a one-stop solution to all your content production challenges. But it WILL radically cut the time required to produce effective material and supercharge your writing if you use the right prompts.
But first, a health warning: Be careful because Google says AI-generated content is against its guidelines. So it’s important that you use ChatGPT as an input to the production process and not a final output.
ChatGPT speeds every part of the production cycle. It’s structured as a conversation, it remembers what you’ve asked earlier, and like Google, is best played with until you feel you’ve got the best answer.
It’s a bit like Google. The secret to unlocking the power of ChatGPT is learning how to come up with smart prompts – the queries you type into the bot. Those who use Google professionally will have come across the use of structural language to get more out of it. ChatGPT’s the same just much more flexible and therefore complicated.
A word on prompts: The joy of ChatGPT is that it works as a conversation using standard language. But it works even better if you use a few adjustments. The examples below make use of some important tweaks to simple verbal instructions.
1. How to find story ideas using ChatGPT
If it’s time to publish something and it’s not obvious what to write about, then ChatGPT can be a great way to get ideation started. What it can’t do is answer the question, “Give me three story ideas with the greatest potential to go viral on social media” (although it will try!). You will have to some thinking to start the ball rolling here.
“You are a health journalist. On the topic of reducing the impact of non-communicable diseases, give examples of the most successful policies.”
“Give me three countries with innovative policies for reducing obesity”
“Give me the names of five celebrities suffering from chronic heart disease”
2. How to test your story’s audience appeal
Getting the ‘framing’ of your post is probably the most important step. ChatGPT won’t do this for you, but it will give you lots of options to consider.
“The most successful hook formats in my sector are: This entity (X) is doing this thing (Y) to solve a problem like (Z); This entity (X) has a solution to the challenge of (Y); (X) lessons from activity (Y) you need to know. Give me two more hook formats to try”
“I want to write about cutting deaths from noncommunicable diseases. What story angles would be of most appeal to a broad audience?”
3. How to write a story outline using ChatGP
It’s tempting to rush straight to asking ChatGPT to write a post, but this step is best done separately – you need to run some sense-checks on whether it is really covering all the ground.
“Act as a BBC News journalist. Write a persuasive article outline about the variety of policies being used to reduce deaths from noncommunicable diseases”.
‘I am writing blog post on X. Create a set of N bullet points I should cover.’
When you get the answer back, be sure to add in any additional points you feel should be covered.
4. How to turn a ChatGPT story outline into a draft
“Turn the outline into a blog post of 1500 words. Include subheadlines where appropriate.”
5. Using ChatGPT to experiment with writing styles
You may feel what comes back from ChatGPT is a little lifeless. Or lacks a good structure. You can remedy this by requesting it be rewritten in a particular style.
Axios’ ‘Smart Brevity’ article: An “Axios story” is structured like this: “Why it matters” describes the key idea; “Driving the news” gives primary context; “What they are saying” lists quotes from people in bullet point format; “By the numbers” presents statistics in bullet point format; “Between the lines” offers secondary context; and “The bottom line” is a brief summary of why the story is important. Write an “Axios story” for this article:
Buzzfeed ‘Listicle’: A “Buzzfeed listicle” story is structured like this: “Headline” consists of the number of items in the story and what they have in common; “Bullet-pointed section” has a subject line made up of the sequential number in the list and a summary headline”
Quartz Explainer: “Write a 1500-word Quartz explainer on ChatGpt. Include a summary of other technologies it is competing with, how fast the uptake has been, and what jobs might be at risk.”
Reuters News Story: “Reuters style” is as follows: the headline is 10 words or fewer, the first paragraph is a summary of what is new and is 40 words or fewer; the second paragraph summarises the most important context, the third paragraph is a quote, subsequent paragraphs should be written in strict order of importance, every third paragraph should have a headline of no more than three words summarising the point of that paragraph. Create a “Reuters style” story for this:
Rewrite this paragraph/sentence/post in the style of…
6. How to optimise headlines using ChatGPT
Headlines are probably the words that are most important to the success of your piece. Ideally, they should be ‘workshopped’ with professional editors to ensure they work. But for most people that’s just not possible. And the next best thing is AI.
“Give me three Buzzfeed headlines”
“Give me three Buzzfeed listicle headlines”
“Give me three Upworthy headlines”
“Give me three Sun Newspaper headlines”
“Give me three Guardian newspaper words that make use of puns”
7. Getting SEO right
“List 10 keywords I can use for my blog about chatgpt and content marketing”
“Which of those keywords or phrases would be most cost effective?”
“Create a meta description of no more than 150 characters for this article: “
8. Making social posts pop
“Create a Twitter social post for this article:”
“What image would work best for the Twitter post?”
“What type of chart would work best for the Twitter post?”
“What hashtags would work best on Instagram?”
Learn Prompting goes into more of the mechanics of prompt engineering and has taken some effort to keep this simple for beginners.
Tribescaler is an app built on ChatGPT that specialises in generating story hooks and will also suggest Twitter posts.