Can AI Content Writers Be Customized? Kate Bradley Chernis of Lately AI Says Yes

Can AI Content Writers Be Customized

Lately AI gets your brand—it’s like an assistant copywriter, a new employee. And Kate Bradley Chernis makes a great case for why it’s time you try it. 

“We were here first,” asserts the Founder and CEO of an AI-powered content generator Lately AI, Kate Bradley Chernis. Lately is a social media management AI tool that was founded in 2014. Since then, many content generators have come to the fore—ChatGPT, for instance—that have transformed the landscape. Though Chernis might not be the only player in the game right now, she sure knows how to stay ahead.

Having launched nine years ago, she has seen the generative AI space evolve into what it is today, which has made it fairly easy for her to explain what Lately does. The AI tool is unlike your run-of-the-mill content generators where you just put in a few words or ideas and get a lengthy article. Lately gets personal and embodies your voice and tone; it becomes your brand. Here, Chernis delves into the makings of Lately AI, the ChatGPT boom and what lies ahead.

The story of Lately (and Kate): how Kate Bradley Chernis’ past experiences shaped her tech invention

Before she was a tech mogul, Chernis was your regular “rock chick in a hard rock world”. She was a DJ, broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day for XM satellite radio. “My superpower is turning listeners into fans or customers into evangelists,” she says. (The eloquentness credited to her fiction writing major). Her superpower set the foundation for her ultimate invention, Lately AI. 

Drawing an analogy from her past life, she shares, “When your brain listens to a new song, it instantly accesses other songs you’ve heard in the past. It starts running down the library of the music in your brain, and is trying to figure out where to index the new song; it is looking for familiar touch points so it knows where to plug it in. In that moment, it’s tapping, nostalgia, memory and emotion. These are all the things that make us trust people, and trust is why we buy.” That’s the idea behind Lately.

Unlike other content generators, Lately AI is designed to embody the voice, tone, and brand identity of its users. When you write a text, article or email, the reader reads it in your voice—your tone, your brand identity. It is what you want audiences to recall and develop a connection with. “With Lately, we designed artificial intelligence to double down on words that will not only convert to sales but also turn customers into fans,” Chernis expounds.

How Lately AI writes content for you

Chernis explains, “With your permission, we access your social media analytics. We look at everything you’ve ever published in the last year, and we study the posts that got you the highest engagement. Then, we break those down into words, ideas, phrases and sentence structures.” At the same time, the tool learns what will convert your target audience and pinpoints those ideas. Then, it makes a unique model that constantly learns over time, making it yours and yours alone.

That means, no generic responses but a robust database of relevant knowledge (for context, most AI content generators—even ChatGPT—only contain info till 2021). Chernis adds, “Our AI updates every second. Every time you publish anything, it’s grabbing those analytics and running it through.” That is possible because Chernis developed her own engine and integrated it with other technologies. Using this information, Lately generates various social media posts and other relevant content for you. It’s like having a new copywriter on board. However, it won’t replace human copywriters; instead, it will help them ‌streamline their workflow and generate more content ideas in less time.

Will AI Content Writers replace humans? Not “Lately”

Chernis affirms, “We don’t replace, we enhance.” Lately requires human training as part of the learning process, making human intervention an integral aspect. Ultimately, she feels, all AI is “pretty dumb” and can only go so far without human training. “If AI was human, it would only be about three months old—helpless.” Human copywriters and editors are still required to verify the information, edit it and mold it to their needs. 

The same goes for ChatGPT. Lately AI was in the closed beta launch of the now world-renowned app and has been working with it for five years. “It is amazing, for sure, but it can’t be personalized. It can’t win your tone of voice or customize the content for you,” Chernis says. For her, ChatGPT is kind of like Cliffnotes, the famous study guide. She says, “Cliffnotes was awesome, but you know, everybody’s going to write the same paper.” In contrast, Lately creates content that is unique to each user and embodies their brand voice and identity.

What does the future hold for Lately?

Currently, Lately is focused on developing social media using long-form text, video and podcasts as starting points. As every business has existing analytics, it is easiest to find patterns there. In the future, the company plans to apply the engine to other kinds of content, like live video captioning and subtitling. 

Right now, Chernis says, “If you upload a video to Lately, we will automatically transcribe the video, and then your model will read the transcription and lift out parts to fit into social posts. It will also clip up the video segments. So you’ll get a dozen, really four dozen mini movie trailers in just a few seconds.”

Lately is a notch above most traditional generative AI, and that’s all thanks to Chernis and her team’s future-forward thinking. But don’t be fooled; she wasn’t always interested in tech. Her passions lay in writing and music. Growing up, she served as a line cook, a rock climber, a DJ (as mentioned above) and more. She sums her adventures up as “lawless culture”, i.e. embracing the complete and utter freedom to do whatever you want. And that’s what got her so far.

You don’t need to know everything to get started

This is probably advice that you already know, but it is the rallying cry that kept Chernis going no matter what. “With Lately, I got lucky. One of my original co-founders was from this world. He was in tech, and he knew the venture community,” she notes. 

Still, having knowledge does not mean that the room for error disappears. For instance, when Chernis set out to gain funding for her venture, she faced quite a few setbacks. The team approached venture capitalists who were quick to turn them down. They felt that Lately hadn’t achieved enough milestones to qualify for a sizable check. In hindsight, Chernis believes that a better approach would have been to go to angel funders who have a greater risk appetite and are more flexible with their terms. “It was a quick education,” she affirms.

The edification was not just internal; investors, too, had their doubts. She confides that sometimes, investors are adamant that you have to know everything. But you don’t have to know everything, she confirms. “You have to have people around you who you can trust to know it for you and explain it to you. And then, you end up learning through osmosis anyway.”

The journey of building Lately was brimming with a range of learning curves—hairpin turns, even. But as the company grew, the different skill sets helped cement Lately’s abilities even more. Now, the company is a team of seven full-time and four part-time employees: small but mighty. “I hate to say luck, but it was,” she admits. 

There are a lot of ways that Lately can transform your business’s online presence. But it’s not a bad personal tool to have on hand, either. Asked what she would use Lately for if not business, Chernis said, “Writing me some funny jokes, that’d be great. I could crack my husband up over dinner.”

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Header Image Courtesy of Lately AI


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