I have a Google Alert set up for the term Virtual Assistant, and today’s alert brought me a link to an ABC News story on, you guessed it, Virtual Assistants. I was excited at the possibility of a major news network shedding some light on our industry. That was, until the video began.
First, it was obvious that the tasks that the piece was focusing on were “Personal Assistant” tasks, not what I consider ‘Virtual Assistant’ services. And second, once again the dirt cheap aspect of going virtual was focused on, this time quoting $2 a task. The results of using three services offering these low rates and personal assistant services were mixed.
Of course, since I know the Ask Sunday service utilizes overseas virtual assistants, I would suspect at the pricing quoted in the video, the other services mentioned might be as well. I could do an entire post on why that can cause potential problems. But that’s not the point of this post.
The truth is, this video got me wondering if it was time for me to call myself something other than a ‘Virtual Assistant’. Should I add something to it like “Virtual Technology Assistant” or “Virtual Office Management Assistant”? Or maybe I should call myself something else altogether and abandon Virtual Assistant completely?
To be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve contemplated this same question. It’s actually come up a few times before, for me and other VA’s. The more mainstream news media uses the term to describe virtual assistants as providing low cost, low expertise type services, is it actually hurting my business to include myself under the same banner?
The difficulty in renaming myself is two-fold. First, just what am I? I provide both executive office assistant type services as well as WordPress and social media assistance. Trying to describe all of that in one umbrella title is daunting. And the second? Well, all of my marketing over the past three years was done under that Virtual Assistant banner. All of the SEO goodness in my website and blog have focused on that term.
So is there another option? Nothing easy, that’s for sure. Perhaps if we could explain to the media that they have been painting virtual assistants with a limited brush stroke. Maybe then they would begin showing just how many different types of services are offered under the term ‘Virtual Assistant’ and the fact that there are onshore as well as offshore VA’s.
The former would require all of us assaulting the newspapers, television stations and other media with the facts, and it still might not make a difference.
There is no easy answer I suppose. Neither is ideal. But I do know that something is going to have to change. Virtual assistance is growing and more and more professionals are going to be using our services rather than hiring employees as the benefits of working remotely begins to make major changes in the way everyone does business. What do you think? How do you think we should address the problem?