How to Use ChatGPT in Association Work

ChatGPT can be another tool for work efficiency, but there are precautions to take as well.

By Nikki Golden, CAE

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AI, or Artificial Intelligence, has been around for a long time, but ChatGPT has brought the topic to the fore, creating a way to efficiently write using the large learning language model—from which the tool has been learning—and an easy-to-use interface.  

That easy-to-use interface is also a little daunting because it’s just a blank box to type into, so how do you start?  

“It’s like Google 2.0,” says Dana Karstensen, MBA, IOM, CAE, data governance product manager at the American Society of Anesthesiologists. “You ask it a question like you would Google, and instead of it populating with a bunch of links to look through, it will give you some information about what you’re asking.” 

“[ChatGPT] can work a lot better than just asking it a general question, but asking a general question works, and then you can start drilling more into it,” says Stephen Gabriel, director of technology at the American Health Law Association.  

Gabriel is in IT, and AHLA uses Microsoft, which offers its own AI tool called Co-Pilot. But he wanted to get a baseline of what the possibilities are before any AI tool is rolled out to his users, so he played around with a membership example in ChatGPT. 

“Because I know one of the things our membership team is looking at is reaching out to student members and converting them, I was playing around with a prompt like: Write a membership campaign for attracting students, and then I fed it some of our member benefits,” he said.  

He says using it as a jumping off point could save time for the membership and marketing team instead of starting from scratch. And once ChatGPT has provided a response, you can refine it by providing more specific information. In Gabriel’s case, he clarified in a follow-up prompt that he was trying to convert students to a full membership for a law association where they’re going from a free membership to a paid membership. “It will give you back a lot more specific information,” he said.  

Refine the prompt further by asking, within the same space, for ChatGPT to write it shorter, or to focus more on the renewal aspect or to create a social media post from it. 

Karstensen agrees: “Ninety percent of the hard work is starting a draft. If you can take something and then modify it in your own words and add details that need to be there, it’s a helpful tool.” 

You could also use copy you’ve already written as a prompt to have it shorten the copy or modify the copy for other uses, such as social media posts. For instance, you can ask ChatGPT to: Modify this website content into a casual member email asking them to register for the event, and then paste in that web copy. 

ChatGPT provides detailed responses by using a Large Language Model, which analyzes enormous amounts of data to learn the patterns and connections between words and phrases. And the more people use and refine their questions to ChatGPT, the more it picks up on the nuances of those connections and patterns. 

But the key is that it’s learning, and as we’ve all read, the responses from ChatGPT are not always 100% correct, and it could also fabricate responses, called “hallucinations.” It provides the responses in such an authoritative manner, Gabriel says, so if you look at it and don’t read it through, it can look great at first glance.  

In addition, you want to be careful what information you provide ChatGPT because the text you provide becomes part of that Large Language Model. You don’t want to provide any proprietary information or member data when you’re using ChatGPT. 

However, it is also scraping publicly available data, like that on your website, so you could use a prompt to have it write a membership campaign for <your association’s name>, and it likely will pull into the copy the benefits from your website if it was launched before the latest ChatGPT update. 

Both Karstensen and Gabriel agree that associations might want to put together a framework of dos and don’ts for staff to follow, to ensure appropriate use of this and other AI tools. For instance, as mentioned previously, about keeping proprietary and member data out of prompts. Around audio AI and image tools, Gabriel cautions that it gets tricky using a person’s voice or image without their permission and to make sure you are transparent when using AI tools in the creation of anything. It’s best practice to include a simple sentence that says this was created in conjunction with <insert AI tool>. 

This article was not written with the help of ChatGPT. 

About the Author

Nikki is a strategist at Association Laboratory. She is also on Association Forum’s Board of Directors and board liaison to the Content Working Group.

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