On Feb.8, ASJA “broke the internet” during online sign-ups for a Virtual Pitch Slam (VPS) session with American Way senior editor Derrik Lang. “Slots were filled within 30 seconds of opening registration,” states Wendy Helfenbaum, ASJA’s chair of Client Networking.
But you won’t go broke by participating in ASJA’s interactive virtual and face-to-face pitching and client connection programs. In fact, the opposite may occur. One member earned more than $10,000 over three years, while another landed a $6,000 assignment writing an educational report. Still another snagged a regular gig with a major lifestyle publication, again worth tens of thousands of dollars. Details on these and additional success stories can be found here. Many of these paydays resulted from VPS and its sister program, Virtual Client Connections (VCC), ASJA’s other online program consisting of brief one-on-one phone or Skype meetings with 8-10 agents, content and print editors and more.
That’s quite an astounding track record for VPS, which is less than two years old and VCC, which started late in 2015. Plus, with Virtual Pitch Slam, “You get to listen to your peers pitching and receiving feedback and you can also hone your own ideas,” explains Wendy. “You learn about the holes in their editorial calendars and what they are looking for in the future. We cover a lot of ground in an hour.” Also, you never have to leave your desk and can actually pitch in your pjs or even in the nude, if that’s your scene. While a phone is all that’s required for VPS, you’ll likely need a computer, Skype, and work clothes for Virtual Client Connections, although some appointments are over the phone, depending on the editor’s preference.
While associate members can’t participate in VCC or VPS, they can listen to the VPS recordings, which can be particularly valuable in tapping into the editorial mindset and industry terminology and key words. For example, you may discover, as one member did, that goat yoga was definitely not on the menu for American Way. “Basically the editor stated that if he heard the words ‘goat’ and ‘yoga’ together one more time he was going to lose it,” adds Wendy with a chuckle.
With VCC, professional members can only sign up with one editor for the first 24 hours after it opens. This gives all members a chance to get an appointment. After 24 hours, professional members can register for two additional appointments. That, too, fills up quickly, so you’d better move fast! For either or both, Wendy recommends writing yourself a note or putting it on your calendar so you won’t miss out.
While members may be disappointed if they don’t get their two-minute VPS appointments, they can still benefit from the collective wisdom. “Sessions are recorded and become available a few days later, so you can listen to them while they’re still fresh,” Wendy says. “It only takes an hour or so and is time well spent, especially if you just learning about the business of writing.”
She also advises participants to make the most of their brief pitch. “Don’t recite your CV or credits; they were sent out in advance and the editors already have them. If you’re nervous about pitching, write one or two fully developed ideas down and read them during the call or practice in front of a mirror beforehand.” To make sure everyone has time, the VPS moderator will cut you off after two minutes.
Pretty much the same goes for VCC, although it’s one-on-one and you have exactly 14 minutes. So while you can delve more into your various ideas and specific qualifications, advance preparation and familiarity with the client is essential. Also, make sure it’s a market you’re enthusiastic about; as any veteran speed dater knows, there’s nothing worse than the dead silence between two people who have absolutely nothing in common.
VPS and VCC are held on alternating months. You can find out more about joining ASJA; the member portion of the ASJA website has information on upcoming editors and other potential clients for VPS and VCC. And watch out for those goat-yoga pitches!
Pitch and/or connect your way into success at Navigate. Motivate. Captivate., ASJA’s annual New York conference on May 18-19. Discounts are still available until Saturday, April 7! For more information on the schedule, keynotes, and hotel, please click here.