Back in January, we received the kind of email everyone loves to get:
“I just wanted to say a very big THANK YOU for enabling me to connect with so many amazing people for my series of gratitude pieces for my blog/book-in-progress, Seeing All the Good. I have written the first of the pieces that features sources I connected with through ProfNet and I wanted to share it: The Whys & How Tos of Gratitude.” – Dr. Colleen Georges, LPC
Who wouldn’t love seeing that first thing in the morning?
I sat down with Dr. Georges to find out more about her ProfNet experience, and her advice to PR pros when replying to queries:
Dr. Georges, please tell us a little about your book and website.
My book and blog site, Seeing All the Good, is inspired by my passion for positive psychology, an area of the psychology field that focuses on what is right with people, rather than what is wrong. Positive psychology does not ignore people’s limits and challenges, but simply recognizes that we perform better, find greater happiness, and thrive in work and relationships when we focus more of our attention on what is good in ourselves, others, and our lives overall. As a positive psychologist, all of my work centers around seeing all the good in others and life and leveraging it to drive success and happiness.
In Seeing All the Good, one of the key areas I write about is the impact of positive psychology in my work and life. For example, in my career coaching, I help my clients identify and utilize their strengths to find fulfilling careers and highlight their achievements for prospective employers. In my life coaching, I run community wellness groups and work individually with clients to help them recognize the good that exists within them and around them. And in my university teaching, I help my students use positive psychology to live with greater gratitude, optimism, and kindness, and use their strengths to help those they serve as helping professionals. These are some of the things I touch upon in Seeing All the Good.
Furthermore, I write about how our life experiences are largely a determinant of what we perceive them to be. We can choose to see the good in ourselves and maximize our unique strengths to live passionately and purposefully in our personal and professional lives. We can choose to see the good in those we encounter, as well as acknowledge that good, celebrate it, help cultivate it, and feel thankful for it. We can also choose to see the good that lies in the challenges and adversities we face, and find wisdom within and gratitude for them. Seeing All the Good concentrates on topics such as gratitude, strengths, passion, purpose, resilience, optimism, goal-setting, kindness, forgiveness, and connection with others. For each topic, I offer personal accounts of my own experiences and perspective, scientific research, specific exercises and strategies, and stories and advice from people across the world.
I have also written about positivity topics in the best-selling, award-winning “Contagious Optimism” book series. The second volume, titled “10 Habits of Truly Optimistic People: Power Your Life with the Positive,” launches March 17.
How has ProfNet helped you take your book and blog from an idea to a reality?
From the moment I conceptualized the idea for Seeing All the Good, I knew I wanted to feature stories and advice from people all over the globe that are living proof of the power of positivity. The challenge and question was, “How do I find such people?” I live and work in New Jersey and do not have a social network that expands much further than where I live, plus a few others states in the U.S.
I was very aware of ProfNet and the wonderful resource they are for writers and journalists, as well as experts seeking mediums to share their knowledge and experience. I was hopeful when I decided to submit a query to ProfNet for my first series of pieces on gratitude, but I honestly never could have imagined the magnitude of ProfNet’s awesomeness as a resource.
First, within just 24 hours, I received an email back from ProfNet that they had already sent out my query to their network of experts all over the world. Then, the responses to my query began rolling in at lightning speed from the most amazing individuals. And if that wasn’t already enough, a week later, PR Newswire emailed me that they had set up a mental health news feed for me, that I now receive every few days.
Finally, when you work with ProfNet, you are immediately made to feel like you are part of a journalistic family. If you email them, they respond right away. There’s no email black hole or silence-- the ProfNet team genuinely cares for their writers and experts, engages and partners with you, and addresses any needs or questions you have.
The other benefit is that ProfNet has vastly grown my professional network. I have established amazing professional relationships with experts who I have asked to collaborate on other pieces, and these experts have referred people to me from their networks. I now have a professional network that spans the globe and I can largely credit ProfNet for this.
[Editor's Note: Dr. Georges was also featured in the bright lights of Times Square as part of our monthly Success Story promotion! See below for details on how you can be featured in Times Square.]
How do you choose which ProfNet experts to work with when you submit a query?
I look for two types of experts: 1) those who have personal experience with the topics I am writing about in their own lives, and 2) those who work professionally to help their clients with the topics I am writing on.
Through ProfNet, I have actually received numerous responses from experts who meet both of these personal criteria. With my gratitude series, I selected to feature interviews from several ProfNet experts who shared specific strategies they have utilized to cultivate gratitude in their families/relationships, workplaces, and to overcome challenges and adversities they have personally encountered. Additionally, I chose to feature experts who shared how they have helped their clients to cultivate gratitude in these areas.
In essence, I love working with those who are experts in fields relevant to the topics I write about, like the helping professions, as well as individuals who work in very different fields, but who are living these topics in their homes, workplaces, and communities. For example, in my gratitude series, I collaborated with experts who work in fields like manufacturing and retail, but who express their gratitude through corporate social responsibility in the community. Had I chose to work only with experts in the helping professions, I would have completely missed out on the amazing stories these experts provided.
What do you look for in responses?
First and foremost, I look for passion and authenticity in experts’ responses. Passion and authenticity jump off the page in the words experts use and their punctuation. I like hearing experts write about the personal meaning the topic has for them in their lives and work. I truly enjoy hearing excitement about a topic and an authentic desire to share that excitement with others.
Second, I look for effort put into the response. When responding to a query, an expert can simply reply by directing you to their website or by providing just their bio. I recognize that putting immense effort into a query response is a risk as one cannot know if their response will be selected, so I do reply to less effortful responses to see if I can get something more specific. However, I love when an expert puts effort into addressing the query comprehensively in their response, and attends to ensuring strong grammar, spelling, and organization. I feel that this shows passion, initiative, and work ethic, which I value immensely.
Finally, I look for responses that show the expert has genuine knowledge of the topic either from a personal or professional perspective. When experts provide their website or supporting documents, I review them, as well as their social media, to get a better sense of who they are, what they do, what they are knowledgeable about, what they are passionate about, and if they are a good fit for the piece I am working on.
Do you have any tips for PR pros and experts responding to ProfNet queries?
For PR professionals pitching for their clients and experts seeking to be included for a piece, I personally believe that conveying sincere interest in the topic is critical, in addition to putting time into the response.
As I mentioned, I love hearing passion and respect seeing effortful responses. I believe it is important to demonstrate why your client or you are a great fit for the piece in relation to how much the topic matters to them/you in a personal and/or professional way.
For instance, with my gratitude series, I enjoyed hearing from PR professionals who responded with something like, “When I read your query, I knew my client would be perfect to be interviewed for your piece, as she centers her life and work around gratitude. She cultivates gratitude with her kids by doing volunteer work as a family, and she coaches her clients to live gratefully by maintaining a daily gratitude journal. I am providing her website where you can learn more about her. Can I introduce the two of you via email so you can see if she might be a good fit?”
From experts, I like reading responses that offer something similar to the above, with a bit more detail and examples. I don’t feel it is absolutely necessary to respond with an entire submission initially (although I do love that!); however, I recommend responding providing more than just a bio, previous article, or direction to a website. I definitely recommend a meatier, more passionate, and effortful response.
Do you have a ProfNet success story, either as a journalist or subscriber? Let us know and not only might you be featured in our next Success Story post, you might also see yourself in Times Square!
And if you’re a journalist who has not yet used ProfNet to find sources, give us a try – it’s easy and free. Just fill out this quick query submission form and we’ll take care of the rest.