Humanizing Communications With Meg Seitz

ASC with Meg Seitz, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of the toth shop.

AI, Copywriting Best Practices and PR Tips

We had the privilege to interview Meg Seitz as our special guest! Meg is the founder and chief creative officer of the toth shop, a company focused on humanizing communication for brands. Meg and her team are valued creative partners of ASC, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to share this thoughtful conversation with you.

You run a successful business focused on humanizing communication. Why should companies and organizations care about humanized communication?

This is such a good and timely question as, four years ago this month, how and why we communicate changed forever at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was in the months that followed – really, the whole year of 2020 – that we started to see a return to more human communication. From a big picture perspective, we started to see television commercials as well as ad copy or editorial stories that focused on real people and what everyone was managing during 2020 – from healthcare to package delivery. On a more regional or local level, that looked like stores or brands being clear on when they were open, what they were dealing with when it came to supply chain, or even just, on an emotional level, how their business needed consumer support to keep going. MTV’s show ‘The Real World’, said it well in the last line of their intro: “…when people stop being polite…and start getting real…” I don’t think the world stopped being polite, per say, but we started to get real in how we talk to each other. 

What exactly does it mean, from your perspective, to humanize communication? 

Humanizing communication is when you, as a writer, speaker, or communicator, make the conscious choice to say what you mean – without the fluff, jargon, or ‘Thesaurus’. It’s saying or writing it the way a human being would say it outloud to another human being. It’s having the ‘real’ conversation about the topic versus dancing around it. It’s taking the extra time to explain terminology that might be unclear or confusing, so that everyone feels included or welcomed in the conversation. 

The point of humanizing your communication is to build trust, to make a strong connection faster, to eliminate a barrier between people – whether that’s you and a potential client or customer or you and your team. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is disrupting a lot of areas of life. From technology to communications and beyond, it seems like it’s poised to touch a lot of everyday life. What’s your take on AI and how have you seen it impact the world of communications? Any predictions for AI and its possible implications for the future of copywriting?

About a year ago, a friend came to me, almost panicked, and said: “Are you worried about your business? Ya know, because of ChatGPT and AI? I mean, it’s basically eliminating your job!” 

No, it’s not, and here’s our stance on it: ChatGPT and AI tools for writing will deliver a great first draft – someone said it to me once as: “ChatGPT will give you a solid C+ paper.” That’s true. If you’re good with that, great. BUT – what we’ve often heard from clients, is they get the draft back, and it doesn’t sound like them, it doesn’t sound like their brand – it feels stiff and awkward, it feels like a 7th grade book report on Christopher Columbus. 

So, think of it like this: AI tools for writing will absolutely get you over the hump of that daunting blank page or blinking cursor. Oftentimes, the stories we hear from adults when it comes to writing and thinking, stem back to how they learned to think about writing as young people in middle school Language Arts and how they were taught or what was modeled for them – you –  in that moment when you didn’t know how to get through what we call the blank page process or respond to ‘read pen’ feedback.  AI will get you through that fear or apprehension, it’ll give you the first, rough draft. We still need human ingenuity to evaluate things like:  context, flow, tone, voice. That’s where we always need a human brain (and pen) to polish work. 

There are also a couple of things to think through when it comes to AI and your writing:

  1. You can’t simply put it into ChatGPT and copy/paste it and send it off – we had one client who did that and realized the AI had ‘crawled’ a competitor’s website and the tool pulled nuggets from their pages. It was a really good thing they caught it in time. 
  2. On that note, I am concerned about where it pulls information from – as a writer, I’m worried about copyright infringement and plagiarism across the board, and AI tools are making it easier for someone to crawl that blog you worked really hard on. 
  3. As much as you don’t think it’s true, someone can tell when you didn’t write something – there are more hints and nods to you in your writing than you realize. The moment someone reads something that doesn’t have your polish or doesn’t sound like you, Spidey senses go UP when it comes to building trust and making a connection.

If you could give three tips for someone looking to improve their efforts to produce high quality, humanized communications, what would those be?

  1. Say what you mean. A lot of time people like to “Thesaurus” a word to sound smarter or be taken more seriously, and I’d challenge you to think about whether you – or any human being – would actually use that word. I love to ask someone: “Would you use that word or say that phrase to your Mom or your best friend?” 
  2. Watch your ‘filler’ or ‘crutch’ words – the words you use to help you get through a scary situation. I’m talking words like: really, just, seriously; starting a sentence with: “I think…” or ending a sentence with: “I don’t know, what do you think?’ You do that to protect yourself – to cushion yourself from something scary – so think about when and why you depend on those words. For me, it’s “I think…” – I often proofread my emails and remove the ‘I think…’ at the start of sentences and remind myself to ‘own’ the phrase sans the ‘I think’ cushion. 
  3. Take a breath, physically or emotionally. Breath is both a physical action AND an approach to writing and thinking. A lot of times we start to use words or phrasing we’re not comfortable with when we’re not taking pauses between sentences or breathing.  A great example is the sentence: “No.” Yes, “No.” is a sentence – you don’t need to keep going on and on about ‘why’ the ‘no’. A breath before or after will help that.
We are ready

let's get started