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Jeanine O'Kane

Recent Posts by Jeanine O'Kane

Storytelling: People Who Listen Learn How to Tell

One day, instead of his normal sermon, the Buddha held up a white flower and said nothing. The monks were bewildered except for one, who smiled and instantly attained enlightenment.” – Ancient Zen story Sometimes we try too hard. For example, when we try to tell stories. For at least the last five years, maybe more, PR folks have been telling clients that messages carry more weight when presented as narratives. Between 2011 and 2015, there was a 294% rise in the use of the term “storytelling” in PR Week. I guess that’s reasonable. In a recent article, consultant Joshua Reynolds of Quantifind pointed out that using stories to teach, persuade and entertain is a very old art—witness Aesop’s fables and many ancient myths. As The Atlantic aptly put it a few years back, humans see the world in narratives because it affords meaning to our lives—even when (uh-oh) there may not be any. The problem I’m describing isn’t with the stories. It’s in the verb “to tell.” Firstly, this is an action verb that doesn’t include listening. Worse, the action doesn’t recognize that stories develop, evolve, and take on new lives. In healthcare PR, we may help a clientContinue Reading

Life Expectancies Take an Unexpected Turn

Throughout history, women have outlived men in almost every country on earth. Worldwide, they now live an average of four years longer. In the US, women are outliving men by five years, versus 7.8 years in the 1970s. Recent research shows the gap continuing to close as life expectancy for women rises at a slower rate than for men. A report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reveals that life expectancy for US men grew by 4.6 years between 1989 and 2009. During that same period, the predicted length of life for an American woman rose just 2.7 years. Can the slide be reversed? Experts say yes. Back in 1800 when no one could expect to survive much past the age of 30, the difference between men’s and women’s life expectancies was probably not a big concern. As quality of life and healthcare advanced in the 20th century, women benefited more than men, and by the 1970s, the life expectancy spread in the US favored women by 7.8 years. Since then, men have been catching up, revealing a troubling new trend: while life expectancy continues to rise, it is doing so more slowly for women. If theContinue Reading