Just My Style
AI Editors That Ensure a Business Writes in the Same Voice—and Stays Out of Trouble
By Joe Dysart
There are an increasing number of AI editors available to augment and even replace company style guides.
Businesses are increasingly turning to AI editors to help ensure their workers write in the same brand voice—and stay out of trouble when it comes to legal vulnerability.
“Without a consistent vocabulary and style, customer-facing content can be seen as unreliable and negatively impact your brand perception,” says Charlotte Baxter-Read, a marketing writer at Acrolinx (www.acrolinx.com).
Not surprisingly, many professional editors and writers bristle at the idea of having a piece of software dictate what they can and can’t write—and perhaps muzzling ideas they’d like to freely express.
But many lose those qualms when they learn that the AI editing software is mostly used to ensure that they—and anyone else writing at the firm—use company buzzwords and buzz phrases that are unique to their brand—and that they steer clear of inappropriate or trade-secret-revealing prose.
Moreover, many editors also come to appreciate AI editors after they realize that many offer the same suggestions for sticking to a company’s writing style as the old school, hard-copy style guides that they may already beseech company workers to use—often with little luck.
Basically, instead of asking workers to adhere to a standalone company writing style guide that they must manually consult when they’re unsure about approved buzzwords and buzz phrases to use, company editors can program all those guidelines into a customized AI editor.
These editors are designed to work in the background. Most can be programmed to edit as you write by offering a screen pop-up when a better word or phrase will do. Or they can be used to run a sweep of a finished piece of writing and point out words or phrases that need to be modified.
Even better: While the use of business writing style guides is often limited to people who work in marketing, many of the new AI style editors can be seamlessly integrated with every app used at a company.
That ensures anyone doing any kind of writing at the business—including people simply sending everyday emails—will be in the loop in terms of what works and what’s verboten when it comes to company style.
Bottom line: During the past few years, AI programmers have been working furiously to come up with both general-use writing style guides, as well as writing style guides specifically designed for company personnel working in finance, law, health and similar departments.
The following are a representative sampling of what’s out there right now:
AI Editors That Help Standardize Company Voice: These AI editors are especially appreciated by company marketing departments, who toil away to come up with buzzwords and buzz phrases that convey the company’s identity to the world. A key tool to check out in this space is Acrolinx (www.acrolinx.com).
AI Editors That Safeguard Workers Against Lawsuits or Revealing Company Secrets: LitLingo (www.litlingo.com) goes a step beyond AI company voice editors by also watching for employee writing that inadvertently negates marketing claims—or could otherwise get the business into legal hot water.
AI Editors for Use by Company Recruiters: Companies looking to ensure their job ads come off as inclusive and free of sexism, ageism and similar negatives tend to use these tools. A leader in this space is Textio (https://textio.com).
AI Editors for Use in Maximizing Search Engine Optimization: Company marketers have been trying for years to write web copy with the right keywords, keyphrases and other attributes that ensure their text appears high up in search engine returns. These tools can auto-generate a paragraph or so of SEO-optimized copy at a time, which you can tweak yourself to sound even better. Tools in this space include SEO Content Machine
(https://seocontentmachine.com), Scalenut (www.scalenut.com) and AISEO
AI Editors for Generating Snappy Marketing Copy: These tools are often used to auto-generate marketing slogans and short marketing copy. With Phrasee
(https://phrasee.co), for example, you feed a working slogan into the software and the tool automatically generates a number of alternate slogans. The software—by consulting its database—is also able to compare how each of its suggested slogans performed in similar campaigns conducted by businesses similar to yours. Another toolmaker working in this genre is Persado (www.persado.com).
AI Editors for Standardizing Company Contracts: This is a busy space right now, with a number of toolmakers offering software that uses templates to crank out standardized contracts—eliminating the need to write those contracts by hand. Tools and toolmakers to check out include CLM Essentials (www.docusign.com/blog/
automate-contract-management-process-clm-essentials), Cortical.io (www.cortical.io) and Woodpecker (www.woodpeckerweb.com).
For a rundown of 250 companies that offer automation software for your legal department—including automated contracts—check out Bam Legal (www.docautodatabase.com/database).
AI Editors for Summarizing Documents: Look for document summarizers to become standard with the most common wordprocessors. Google, for example, already offers document summary with Google Docs. Doc summarizers are also available from Language Weaver (www.rws.com/language-weaver) and H20.ai (https://h2o.ai).
AI Editors for Customizing Tone, Feel, Target Audience and More: These AI editors compete directly with the grammar and spelling checkers that come standard with Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
One of the most popular is Grammarly (www.grammarly.com), which goes beyond simple grammar and spell checking to offer a number of settings that help customize your writing for a specific audience.
With Grammarly, for example, you can change the software’s settings to solicit suggestions for a particular tone of writing.
You may also want to use Grammarly’s settings to ensure your writing sounds academic, for example, while other pieces can be tweaked by the AI editor to sound business-like, casual or creative.
Grammarly also enables users to tune its suggestions to create copy that either informs, describes, convinces or tells a story.
And still additional levers in the software trigger editing suggestions that help the resulting copy sound general, knowledgeable or expert in tone—as well as informal, neutral or formal.
An important caveat: While many are sometimes stunned at the capabilities of the various AI editors on the market, these tools are very much aids—and not replacements—for editors.
Essentially, AI is good, but human editors—with their much deeper grasp of nuance, writer intention and overall understanding of what is being said—are still best AI at ensuring every piece of copy that goes out the door is the best it can possibly be.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan