What is a virtual assistant?

Sarah Brewer/Courtesy of Sarah Brewer

Sarah Brewer/Courtesy of Sarah Brewer

By Kimberly Simpson

Sarah Brewer is an owner of a virtual assistant company in Australia, Brewer Administration Services. Brewer Services has three employees and serves all kinds of businesses and corporations with administrative work as well as social media promotion — all done virtually.

 Tell us more about your company. 

Outsourcing enables Brewer Administration to offer clients a wide range of more technical skills such as proficiency with PowerPoint presentations, building databases and websites and well-honed marketing and research skills. An advantage is created when one of our VAs have a wider and more complex range of skills, allowing us the ability to offer more value to the client.

What is a virtual assistant and how long have you been doing this kind of work?

A VA is someone who performs all the tasks and more of an assistant but only does this virtually, from either the comfort of their own home or office. A VA has multiple clients and is qualified to take on a magnitude of administration and secretarial tasks.

I started this business five years ago after the birth of my first child. I was determined not to return to the 80-plus (hours) a week as a corporation’s executive assistant, and knew it was something the market was calling out for.

How could the news industry learn from virtual assistants?

By typing notes, using social media management, research components, appointment setting or diary management. We also accomplish tasks in less time, and different, focused ways to do research for our different projects.

What virtual-assistant methods or strategies could journalists use in our field?

We are a company who streamlines information for customers. We assure that all information is accurate and timely, and what is needed for the client. In some outsourcing companies, they write, research, copy and paste a headline, or an article for the journalist. In some cases, as much or as little can be outsourced from the journalist to help them focus on those tasks they find more urgent.

How do you maintain good relationships when working remotely with people you’ve never met in person?

We stay in constant virtual catch ups, emails and technology. It is about delivering on time what the customer expects and then exceeding those expectations.

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