Working Virtually with Speakers Gaining in Popularity Worldwide

Date: 9/16/2012

Working Virtually with Speakers Gaining in Popularity Worldwide

There are an estimated 20,000 speakers worldwide and at least 12 international organization that represent them. Many speakers have heard about virtual assistants, but may not be aware that some specialize in working exclusively with busy speakers. Especially new speakers need someone who knows what to do, when to do it and how to effectively promote their speaking businesses.

According to Karen Reddick, MVAA (Master Virtual Author’s Assistant), “I’ve always loved books and it is so rewarding to help authors get books published. As soon as I became certified as an author’s assistant, I found seven new author clients in two months. I work with authors almost full time at this point.”

Speakers are grateful for the kind of help that they used to only be able to figure out themselves. One of Janine Heydrick’s clients, training director and speaker Saralyn Collins says this: “I constantly refer Janine to others. Everyone who knows me professionally already knows that Janine is due a great deal of respect and recognition for her role in my success. You will make a very wise business decision when you hire her to help structure, organize and run your business.”

The primary market for virtual speaker’s assistants are subject matter experts in their own professions and businesses, and who speak at least twice a month and are anxious to increase their fees. The typical client is a working professional coach, therapist, attorney, physicians, financial planners or might be known as a celebrity or author.

The virtual assistant industry is a thriving, even in a tough economy. There are approximately 7,000 virtual assistants in the US, 3,000 in Canada, 2,000 in the UK and 2,000 in Australia, with estimates of 20,000 worldwide. Since more and more of the 20 million small businesses in the U.S. are outsourcing, there is plenty of opportunity in this growing business segment.

The virtual assistant concept was developed in about 1995, following the mainstream use of the Internet. The combination of telephone, email and file sharing allows for many types of work to be done virtually.

There is good incentive for individuals and organizations to hire virtual assistants, especially in this economy. There is the:

1. Flexibility of just getting the expertise and execution of work when it is needed without having to hire a full-time person to be ready.

2. Cost reduction of not having to provide a physical office space, benefits, or pay workers comp or pay overtime.

According to a survey done by the Virtual Assistance Networking Association (, 43.4% of virtual assistants have a specialty they have developed so that they can target a niche market, like working with authors and speakers.

“There are about 400 trained, professional virtual author’s and speaker’s assistants today worldwide, so this is a huge opportunity,” says Jan B. King, creator of the Professional Virtual Author’s Assistant Certification and Training Program and the Professional Virtual Speaker’s Assistant Certification and Training Program. “We expect that number to be almost 2,000 in another year because the demand is great. Many businesspeople are taking this downtime in workload to write books and they need virtual help to get them written, published and promoted well as speakers.”

Jackie O’Neal, President, Virtual Assistance For Speakers,


The Process of Collaboration With An Author’s Assistant

The Process of Collaboration With An Author’s Assistant

(New York, N.Y.)   According to publishing executive and founder of eWomenPublishingNetwork, Jan B. King, although author assistants are known and acknowledged inside the publishing industry, this does hold true outside of it.

On her website, King says, “We predict that will change very soon because of the increasing numbers of authors who are getting published, either as independent publishers themselves or the more traditional route with established publishers.”

There are a number of reasons  first time authors can benefit by collaborating with an assistant regardless of the stage they are in.

The process of writing, publishing, and marketing can become a full time job, leaving an author with little time to pursue  their passion- writing.

The details of becoming a successful author with a  strong online presence such as undertaking a virtual book can be overwhelming for most.

For self- published authors, tasks such as organizing the process to get a foreword, endorsements and testimonials for the back cover, web site and other sales materials*
ready, can be daunting.

Here are three reasons why working with an assistant can be worthwhile:

  • Publicity is a full-time job: Working with an assistant  can take a great deal of pressure off the author. An author’s assistant with a specialty in guiding an author through the complex maze of book marketing can make a difference in ensuring your book gets noticed. From launching an best- seller campaign to entering the book in book awards competitions relevant to the content of your book, an author’s visibility expands quickly.
  • *A cost- effective solution:  Because an assistant works remotely from a laptop computer and phone and generally has a fairly low overhead, they basically charge fees most authors can afford. Depending on the level of training and expertise an assistant  has, the fees can range from $30- $65 an hour ( and higher based on experience)  If an author undertook to do the myriad  of tasks involved between  writing and preparation for publishing and marketing, they  would need to invest an inordinate amount of time that could otherwise be used to write and meet with their readers at events.
  • Valuable relationships and contacts: Assistant have generally worked in some aspect of the publishing industry for several years and you can be assured they have a wide network of established contacts and this will also enrich your circle of influence.

About Jackie O’Neal, founder of Virtually Creative Services For Authors:

Virtually Creative Services for Authors is a company dedicated to assisting authors through the writing, publishing, and marketing process via key offerings. Founder, Jackie O’Neal has been an executive literary publicist for several years and managed numerous book marketing campaigns for fiction and non-fiction authors as the President of O’Neal Media Group. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College

Preparing for Your First Interview as a Published Author – The Savvy Book Marketer

Preparing for Your First Interview as a Published Author – The Savvy Book Marketer.

Roger C. Parker points out the ways authors can prepare for media interviews and shares creative ideas. You’ll find the content by clicking the hyperlink above.

There are no two ways about it- preparation is definitely key. Every author should prepare a list of 10-15 “suggested interview questions” that they anticipate media will ask and then work to create

concise responses to each one.  Broadly, such content will make an important part of the author’s media kit, and yet time should be spent updating the responses since changes and new developments always arise.

In preparing responses, it’s also a sound practice to weave in concrete language and anecdotes where appropriate. It’s so much easier to quote metaphorical language for its appeal, and it is also much more memorable.


Ready to Connect with Your Local Newsroom?

Newsrooms across the country are on the lookout
for news stories:

-Getting ready for school still has lots of angles
left to cover – like last minute deals for
supplies. What’s the “hot” item that every kid
has gotta have at your store? What about the
billion dollar industry for school supplies? Who’s
getting those dollars?

-As kids get back to into the swing of school,
give us some tips to boost them.  Throw in some
statistics of how many kids DON’T graduate and
what parents can do right now to shift that.

-What about fundraising for schools? Many bands,
athletic groups and student councils will be
looking for ways to raise ever-needed funds. What
do you have?

-Budget, budget and more budget. Where do you
stand? How will spending/not spending impact your
industry? Are you an economist? Chime in to this
US debate.

Reprinted from “Shawne’s TV Guide,” a free
newsletter that generates networking and
relationships in traditional & social media to
grow your business, career and non-profit.
Subscribe at
© Copyright 2011 Shawne Duperon, ShawneTV Inc.

Poll reveals 62% of Journalists use Public Relations Agencies For Sourcing



Kevin Allen writing for Ragan’s PR Daily asserted “a new poll suggests that journalists are increasingly relying on social media for their sources, but it’s still not as influential as PR”.

Allen then cited Oriella PR Network who  polled nearly 500 journalists, and learned that 47 percent are using Twitter (up from 33 percent a year ago) and 35 percent are using Facebook as a source (up from 25 percent a year ago).

The journalist pointed out,”Still, social media isn’t the first thing they’re going to—only 4 percent said they use Twitter, Facebook, or blogs as their first source in researching a story.”

Allen went on to write, “The No. 1 resource that journalists in this study are using for sourcing was PR agencies, with a whopping 62 percent.

“As for the first port of call when researching a news or feature story? PR again! Nearly 22 percent of respondents say their initial stop is a press release”.

The story went on to say that Oriella PR Network, an alliance of 15 communications agencies in 20 countries, has published its annual study on digital journalism since 2008.

Allen introduced some statistics that suggest the pressure journalists are under:

Almost half (45 percent) admitted they have to produce more content and a third (34 percent) work longer hours.

However, despite this added pressure, 44 percent of the respondents said they enjoyed their job more, compared with 34 percent in 2010 and just 27 percent in 2009.

DIY Media contacts

I recently tuned into a webinar lead by Michelle Tenant Nicholson discussing the importance of creating a Top 50 media list.   For authors who want to get their message out to influentials who focus on target readers, researching relevant media contacts is paramount. I really like the plan Michelle outlined to seek  out  five media contacts per week for a 10 week period. Even without a media database it’s possible to do so just by using the Google search engine and using keywords. Since I use myself as a case study, I tried out researching media contacts without relying on my expensive media database, just for the hell of it. My book Born in the Land of the Tango has  been getting quite a bit of media coverage in the form of braodcast interviews. I wanted to increase print placements so I used the Google search engine to research magazines relevant to the themes of my book. I used the following keywords in quotes: “multicultural magazines.” A librarian taught me to always use quotes around keywords to get a better result. I was introduced to many print outlets, but one caught my eye- Urbane Perspectives Magazine.  As synchronicity would have it, the editor made a query the same week. I responded to the query and was interviewed by the editor for an article to run in the magazine. Having done the research in advance, I was able to create a stronger connection with the magazine and had the chance to compliment the editor on some recent articles I had read in the magazine.

Part of Michelle’s webinar included how to search the magazine’s masthead to find relevant contacts. She pointed out that it’s easier to find the information as most editors  include their emails on digital versions.  Researching one’s top 50 media contacts can be time consuming, but it’s worth the investment of time. Another aspect to the process, is that you can research the contacts for magazines or broadcast outlets you want to be covered in, and find out what editorial content they are covering.   You can then tailor the pitch to  tie in with future issues.Try calling the advertising department and inquire about getting an editorial calendar. These are not easy to get, but you can ask.  There are organizations that cater to freelance writers that will for fee make editorial calendars of top magazines accessible. Media bistro is one of them.



Does you company have a crisis communication plan in place?

Kevin Allen writing for Ragan's PR Daily pointed out that a recent study undertaken by Burson-Marsteller showed "companies are woefully underprepared for a digital crisis." 

The reporter pointed out that Burson-Marsteller referred to as "the PR giant" surveyed 800 business leaders around the world to get a better idea of corporate perceptions of the state of crisis 

communications in the Digital Age.

 The story went on to analyze the results and then quoted Forbes as saying, “amounts to a wake-up call for business leaders who defend reputations and brand equity in today’s digitally connected marketplace." 

According to the survey, Allen wrote,"Among the findings, nearly 60 percent of business decision-makers have experienced a crisis in their current or previous company. Meanwhile, 79 percent believe their company is fewer than 12 months away from a potential crisis."

The  Ragan PR Daily reporter went to say,  "Controversial company developments, online or digital security failure, and logistic difficulties were among the most likely anticipated crises." 

 Allen also observed, "When it comes to crises that can do the most damage to a company’s reputation, danger to product safety (defective or contaminated parts), online or digital security failure, natural disaster, and critical or negative new media campaigns were thought to have the greatest impact. 

Despite all this doom-and-gloom prognosticating, nearly half of those business leaders surveyed said their company does not have a crisis plan." 

The reporter cited the study and wrote the reason was related to "Indifference and cost." 

Allen pointed out B-M identifies three types of companies: "20 percent are Boy Scouts (well-prepared), 45 percent are Tightrope Walkers (vulnerable), and a 35 percent are Ostriches (exposed) with their heads

 in the ground." 

The Ragan PR Daily reporter then raised the question, "Where does your company fall?"