Leveraging ChatGPT for Streamlining Emails and Marketing Endeavors

By Troy Lowry

In a recent blog post, I delved into the controversies surrounding the use of ChatGPT for drafting personal statements. The skepticism around the ability to detect AI generated content is very real, and I even demonstrated a specialized tool — known as a fine-tuning — that enables advanced users to tweak ChatGPT or its successor, GPT-4, to mirror their unique writing style. Applicants are flocking to ChatGPT for its ability to produce high-quality text at an impressive speed. I believe that administrators at law schools should also take advantage of this excellent tool.

Today, I’ll offer you a beginner’s guide on employing ChatGPT, or its successor GPT-4, to assist in the crafting of emails, marketing materials, and other forms of corporate communications. While ChatGPT functions as an incredibly effective assistant, it should by no means replace the discerning judgment of a human expert. I strongly recommend rigorous scrutiny of its outputs before considering them ready for use.

Moreover, if you’re considering giving ChatGPT a try, please be aware of your institution’s policies regarding its usage. Notably, certain iterations of ChatGPT process your data in a manner that might make it publicly accessible. Thus, it’s absolutely vital to avoid entering any confidential or sensitive information and to abide by your institution’s policies on usage.

Getting Started with ChatGPT

For those eager to explore, ChatGPT can be accessed at chat.openai.com. As of September 1, 2023, the basic version is complimentary, although account creation is necessary. The signup process is straightforward and linking it to a Google account simplifies the login, making it quick and effortless.

Upon signing in, you’re greeted with a “Send a message” prompt at the bottom of your screen, closely resembling the familiar layout of a standard search query box. Feel free to experiment with various queries; today’s focus, however, is squarely on using the tool for marketing purposes.

Let’s assume that you need an email message to accepted applicants telling them that they need to file a housing form by July 1 to ensure housing for the following semester. You would simply tell ChatGPT what you want and see what it comes up with. In this case what I typed in, also known as a “prompt” was:

Write me an email message from the admissions department of Newtown School of Law to accepted applicants asking for them to fill out a housing form at the attached link. In order to be sure of housing for the fall, they must submit the form by July 1st.

And ChatGPT immediately responded with:

Subject: Urgent: Complete Your Housing Form for Newtown School of Law by July 1st

Dear Accepted Applicant,

Congratulations once again on your admission to Newtown School of Law! We are thrilled to have you join our community in the coming fall semester. As part of your transition, it’s crucial to secure your on-campus housing by completing the attached housing form.

Please fill out the form at this link as soon as possible. The deadline for submissions is July 1st. Filling out the form by this date will ensure that you have a place to live on campus during the fall semester.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you to Newtown School of Law. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at admissions@newtownlaw.edu.

Best regards,

The Admissions Department

Newtown School of Law

To paste ChatGPT’s output into your email tool, use “Keep Text Only” (right-click or Ctrl + Shift + V). This avoids formatting issues.

ChatGPT can draft emails with specific elements. For example, I wanted the email to come from the housing department and include a Maya Angelou quote. I prompted it: “Change it to the housing department, add a mail-merge spot for names, remove ‘urgent,’ and include a Maya Angelou quote.” It then produced a revised email complete with a new department and a quote.

Example Prompt:

“This is good, but it should be from the housing department, not the admissions department. Add a spot for me to mail-merge their names, and include an inspirational Maya Angelou quote.”

ChatGPT’s Reply:

“Dear [First Name], Congratulations on your acceptance...Maya Angelou wisely said, ‘The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.’” This is good, but I don’t love this quote in this context. I could ask for ChatGPT to redo the letter with a new quote, but instead let’s ask it for some choices with this prompt:

“That looks good! But I don’t love that quote here. Please give me 5 more Maya Angelou quotes that fit here. Something about change and moving.”

To which it replied:

Of course! Here are five more Maya Angelou quotes, this time focusing on themes of change and moving forward:

  1. “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”
  2. “Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”
  3. “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. It may even be necessary to encounter the defeat, so that we can know who we are.”
  4. “You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
  5. “Nothing will work unless you do.”

Each of these quotes could offer an inspiring touch to your email, encouraging students as they embark on this significant life change.

Much better! I like number two the best, so I’ll just ask ChatGPT to use it.

“Please redo the letter with quote #2 instead of the original quote.”

Here’s what it responded with:

Subject: Complete Your Housing Form for Newtown School of Law by July 1st

Dear [First Name],

Congratulations on your acceptance to Newtown School of Law! As you prepare for this exciting new chapter, the Housing Department is here to ensure a smooth transition. One key step is to secure your on-campus housing for the fall semester.

Maya Angelou wisely said, Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman. As you step onto this new path of legal education, know that we are committed to nurturing your whole experience.

To ensure you have a place to live on campus in the fall, please complete the housing form at this link by the July 1st deadline. This will help us in accommodating your housing preferences.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at housing@newtownlaw.edu.

Warm regards,

The Housing Department

Newtown School of Law

ChatGPT as Editorial Assistant: Human + AI > AI

ChatGPT excels at quick, insightful editing but shouldn’t substitute for human review. The synergy between human and AI consistently delivers superior outcomes. For instance, ChatGPT not only swapped out the Maya Angelou quote in an email but also added meaningful commentary. These add-ons can be both a boon and a bane, so scrutiny is crucial.

Please note that ChatGPT has a tendency to trim content, sometimes removing key examples or points. While it’s great for clarifying and condensing text, it can sometimes overstep. That’s why it's essential to carefully review its output.

In summary, ChatGPT shines as a fast, though not infallible, editorial helper. Much like asking a colleague for advice, you can use ChatGPT for quick writing enhancements. While I find that I agree with only about 40% of its suggestions, each change I agree with elevates my work. And getting those ten suggestions takes mere seconds, compared to the hours or days a colleague might need.

While ChatGPT is a resource I highly recommend (within institutional guidelines), using its output without diligent review can be risky, especially due to AI-generated errors, often termed “hallucinations”. When used responsibly, ChatGPT proves to be a speedy and valuable asset for anyone looking to improve their writing, much like a well-informed friend.