How HubSpot’s Hustle Team Uses AI


If you aren‘t familiar with The Hustle, it’s a media entity known for its offbeat and irrelevant spin on the news (case in point: The Corporate Marriage of Pop Tarts and Crocs).

If you aren‘t familiar with The Hustle, it’s a media entity known for its offbeat and irrelevant spin on the news (case in point: The Corporate Marriage of Pop Tarts and Crocs).

Fans of The Hustle have struck content gold. They can subscribe to their daily newsletter, now 2+ million subscribers strong. They can listen to their podcast, or watch their YouTube videos. And if they still need an extra fix, they can hit “follow” on one (or all) of their social media accounts.

It’s no secret that The Hustle is a content engine – but with the emergence of AI, their workflow is starting to change.

Here, I spoke to the team at The Hustle to learn how they’re using AI to supercharge their content.

Free Report: The State of Artificial Intelligence in 2023

How The Hustle Team Uses AI

Repurposing content across social media.

The Hustle is everywhere on social media, enabling them to reach an audience that spans every corner of the internet.

As Taryn Varricchio, Editorial Manager of The Hustle’s YouTube channel, puts it, “Not every YouTube viewer is a dedicated TikToker, and vice versa. By sharing different forms of our content, we can reach these audiences and give extended life to our long-form stories,” she told me.

Taryn Varricchio Quote

However, adapting their content to different platforms can be a time-consuming process. This is where AI can help.

Varricchio uses AI to convert long-form content into bite-sized YouTube Shorts. Using the tool, she enters the URL from the long-form video, and the tool returns with several snippets of the video.

For example, the YouTube Short below is a snippet of a longer, seven-minute video on their YouTube channel. With the help of AI, Varricchio was able to maximize the mileage of the longer video and meet her audiences in more than one place.

Making room for more creative work.

“Fortunately, we feel like AI can’t out-creative us just yet,” Ben Berkley, Managing Editor of The Hustle, told me.

After all, it’s hard to imagine an AI chatbot cooking up such titles as How to Barbecue In Outer Space or Seaweed-Sinking Robots Are Tackling the Climate Crisis. Although this might change in the future, for now, Berkeley and his team are dabbling with AI to make room for more creative work.

He told me, “We’re taking it upon ourselves to experiment with every tool available to us — whether it’s helping us distill complicated concepts more efficiently, creating new kinds of graphics that could accompany our stories, or just simply helping us with administrative work.”

Ben Berkley quote (1)

Over on The Hustle’s YouTube channel, Varricchio and her team use AI to streamline the research stage of content creation.

“As journalists, content creators, and video scriptwriters, our teams constantly need to research, read articles and reports, and sift through the clutter online to find reputable sources. AI can help us summarize research and highlight key points from articles and reports that could otherwise take hours to read through,” she told me.

However, Varricchio points out that AI doesn’t remove the need to fact-check or confirm their sources. While it streamlines the research stage, she still has human guardrails in place to check for quality.

Experimenting with AI as an alternative to stock imagery.

While most creative teams rely on stock photos, Ben Harmanus, Principal Editorial Lead at HubSpot, is experimenting with AI-generated images for videos.

One of the biggest drawbacks of stock imagery is the complicated licensing fees and agreements. For example, if you need to replace a copyrighted image in a YouTube video, you have to take it down, edit it, and then re-upload it. In the process, you lose all the views, comments, and likes from the original video.

“While we can easily swap an image on a website, this is impossible for videos. AI is often a safer way to use images,” Harmanus told me.

Not only are AI-generated copyright-free, but they’re also entirely customizable. Oscar Estrada, Motion Designer at HubSpot, has also been experimenting with AI-generated images for this reason.

“Sometimes it’s hard to find a stock image that matches the mood or the color palette that I need,” he told me. “It’s helpful to have tools like Midjourney or Runway to visualize ideas and even to replace stock imagery.”

In Estrada‘s experience, AI doesn’t just push his creative potential; it also has clear time-saving benefits.

“It helps me work on multiple projects simultaneously without having to waste time on the manual, repetitive parts of the process. In that way, I feel like it’s super valuable.”

Ultimately, tools like Runway AI could be a life-saver for teams who need content in a pinch, or a way to test out new ideas or concepts with minimal time commitment.

Getting inspiration for YouTube titles.

“I like to ask HubGPT to help our team craft engaging YouTube video titles,” Varricchio told me. She does this by pasting video scripts into HubGPT and prompting it for suggestions.

It‘s worth noting that Varricchio doesn’t simply copy and paste its responses. Instead, she uses it as a creative springboard.

“While I don’t use any title word for word, it helps inspire phrases or language for a video title I otherwise hadn’t considered,” she told me. “It can trigger a new framing for a video or consider what other information might be more useful to prioritize in the naming of a story.”

In this way, AI becomes a brainstorming partner, offering alternative angles and new perspectives. This type of collaboration is invaluable for content teams like The Hustle, and can be used in a variety of ways — from coming up with YouTube titles and blog ideas, to social media copy and more.

Above all, The Hustle team is still figuring things out.

When I asked Ben Berkley how his team uses AI, his answer was refreshingly candid.

“It’s important that we’re honest with ourselves and our readers that we’re still figuring out AI like everyone else. We aren’t sure how it’ll fit into our jobs in the long run yet, but it won’t be for a lack of trying,” he told me.

I’m willing to bet this sentiment is felt by many teams trying to navigate this new AI world. While AI is exciting, many teams feel pressure to build their entire operation around it.

However, Berkeley is embracing AI where it makes sense, and with a healthy dose of curiosity.

“We want The Hustle to be the very best and that’s only possible with more time to lean into our own creativity. We hope AI will offer us a way to do that.”

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