Welcome to the MTB blog. In this blog students and staff of the postgraduate programme of Multilingual Business Communication at Ghent University present their latest research, media and web finds in the fields of marketing communication, employee communication and crisis communication.
September 22, 2008
June 13, 2009
Since April 27, I am working as a trainee at Thomas Cook Belgium (TCB). In Belgium, Jetair and TCB are the leading, well matched, tour operators. However, most people don’t know that Thomas Cook Belgium does not only represent the brand Thomas Cook. In fact, TCB unites three famous brands: Neckermann, Thomas Cook and Pegase.
You could describe the marketing strategies of the three brands in a nutshell by stating that Thomas Cook wants to be ‘Delhaize’ among the Belgian tour operators, Pegase compares itself to ’Rob market’ and Neckermann wants to be ‘Colruyt’ in the Belgian tour operator market. On the one hand, these brands have to join forces in order to beat their common competitor Jetair. On the other hand, you can feel that there is also some interbrand competition within the TCB group.
I am working at the marketing and communication department of Neckermann, where I get the opportunity to make advertisements and competition forms, to attend meetings, to organize sponsor events such as Q Beach House and to work on research projects, etc. I enjoy working in the touristic sector because you are working together with people who all share the same passion, namely travelling. Moreover, Neckermann is working together with interesting companies such as VRT, Q Music, Sanoma Magazines (Humo), Concentra,etc. Although there are many deadlines, working at Thomas Cook Belgium brings you in a holiday mood every day…
June 9, 2009
According to Deloitte’s 2009 Ethics & Workplace Survey, 74% of workers believe it is easy to damage a brand’s reputation via social networking sites. This result emphasizes an important part of issue and crisis management: corporate culture and employee satisfaction. As social media are getting more and more mainstream, the influence of employees on public opinion is increasing.
“With the explosive growth of online social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, rapidly blurring the lines between professional and private lives, these virtual communities have increased the potential of reputational risk for many organizations and their brands,” said Sharon Allen, chairman of the board of Deloitte LLP. “While the decision to post videos, pictures, thoughts, experiences and observations is personal, a single act can create far reaching ethical consequences for individuals as well as employers. Therefore, it is important for executives to be mindful of the implications of this connected world and to elevate the discussion about the risks associated with it to the highest levels of leadership.”
Only17 percent of executives surveyed say they have programs in place to monitor and neutralize the possible reputational risks that may appear through social networks. Additionally, while less than a quarter have formal policies on the medium’s use among their people, 49 % of employees indicate that corporate guidelines will not change their behaviour online.
“One-third of employees surveyed never consider what their boss or customers might think before posting material online,” Allen continued. “This fact alone reinforces how vulnerable brands are as a result of the increased use of social networks. As business leaders, it is critical that we continue to foster solid values-based cultures that encourage employees to behave ethically regardless of the venue.”
These values-based corporate cultures should incorporate more employee feedback and participation. When people are able to talk about work-related issues on the work floor itself, they won’t feel the need to turn to third parties. Then, if a crisis does hit the fan, your employees will be your best allies.
Is your company’s Knowledge Management system failing? Is it getting nearly impossible to effectively manage crucial documents with your current e-mail applications? Does key information get buried in a colleague’s inbox, because someone failed to put you in cc? Then an internal project blog on your corporate intranet might be just the tool you need.
Internal blogging has many advantages over a traditional e-mail system. Of course the blog has to be made accessible to specified individuals and restricted from public view. All the information, ideas and expertise on one or several projects can be centered on the blog. After a project is completed, this blog remains a searchable and structured record.
Sometimes key information completely disappears, for example when someone leaves the company. Usually the old e-mail account becomes dissolved and all the valuable information that used to live there, goes into data purgatory. “It’s forever lost,” says Anil Dash, chief evangelist for Six Apart. “If it’s in a blog, it doesn’t disappear when that person leaves.” With blogs, documents and other information about respective projects remains on the intranet, and critical information is accessible to all who want to see it and who have permission to see it.
With an internal blog as a central point where information flows are captured, everyone who participates and reads it gets up-to-date quickly. This will make your internal meetings more effective. When new people start working on a project, they can review the internal blog’s content and will be able to jump straight in with a clear understanding of how the project evolved.
That’s what Hudson, one of the leading consulting firms in the field of Human Resources, is all about. By aligning their expertise with the needs of their clients, they play a crucial role in many organisations worldwide.
The pace of business is accelerating: everything is continuously changing and developing. Businesses and markets are becoming increasingly complex. By recognising that people are the key to success, companies can become long-term winners. Attracting, developing and retaining the best people has therefore become a top priority in many organisations.
Hudson helps unleash that human potential. Not only do they offer recruitment and selection services, they want to provide their clients with global solutions, going from organisational and individual development to reward management. Their wide array of activities makes sure that they can offer any kind of service when the need arises.
Due to all of these reasons, I am proud to be starting my internship in two weeks at the Research & Development Department of Hudson, Ghent. Not only will it give me the opportunity to gain experience in a totally new field for me, it’s also quite exciting that the tools, designed in Ghent, will be used all over the world and in all Hudson companies. Knowing that I will soon be a part of that process makes me eager to start. I’m truly looking forward to it.
April 11, 2009
Two weeks ago, a serious mistake was made in the Brugmann hospital in Brussels. A corrossive substance – instead of distilled water – was used to clean an endoscope, causing severe internal burns to 4 patients during a routine intestinal check-up.
The hospital immediately admitted a blunder was made. They contacted the possibly affected patients, offered them the appropriate medical, psychological, legal, administrative assistance, and promised a compensation. A fine example of good crisis communication!
But at the same time the hospital brought action against an unknown person and tried to minimalise the damage. Two weeks have passed and nothing has been communicated concerning the results of the investigation. The patients complained about the bad communication of the hospital towards them.
The website of the Brugmann Hospital says nothing about the incident. It does say they are cooperating in a national campaign about hospital hygiene ‘You are in good hands’. I’m not so sure if the 4 victims would agree on this…
Sources: Zware fout bij darmonderzoek, Knack, 31 March 2009
Routineonderzoek in ziekenhuis heeft dramatisch gevolgen, De Standaard, 1 April 2009
April 10, 2009
With the introduction of blogs and other social media companies have to face new challenges if they are to deal with a crisis situation effectively and efficiently.In crisis communication the goals are to maintain a positive image of the company, to present timely information, and to remain accessible. Blogs give the ability to offer updates instantly and to remain accessible. Moreover, you can use a human tone of voice to accommodate the public’s emotional response.
But how do you deal with a blogging community of millions during a crisis? Rumours can spread like wildfire from blogger to blogger, country to country. There are some things you can take into account, because after all, you do want to survive the crisis.
First of all, you should have a crisis communication plan in place. It’s very important for companies to have blogging policies, and certainly, don’t replace your crisis communications plan with blogs. It’s got to be part of the mix.
Secondly, publish facts and only facts. The more information you give, the more you can contain the issue. Don’t let speculation and assumption run wild. Bloggers appreciate openness and giving them all the information is the key.
Thridly, bloggers look for the truth. Answer any questions they might have, post comments on blogs addressing the issue, ask for their opinions and get their insight. Work with them, not against them.
And last but not least, take nothing for granted. Continuously monitor your blog, not only prominent bloggers. When rumours or allegations are completely false this doesn’t mean you can ignore it.
When looking at employee communication, we often consider it as one way traffic from the employer towards the employee. However, I asked myself lately wether this could have been slightly reversed. In the last decade, employees became more and more demanding. They do not settle for just any job available anymore. According to a Weekend Knack questionnaire held amongst 20 year olds, we do not just want to find a job and earn large amounts of money. We mainly want to live the good life. We still work overtime, but instead of being paid for it, we want more holidays in return. This does not mean that we are a lazy generation, we just consider quality time of more importance than materialism.
We do not want money. We want a nice atmosphere, a good company image and flexible working hours.
We do not want certainty. We rather enjoy what we do, also if it is for a short time.
Last but not least, we have faith in ourselves and believe that everything will work out just fine.
I guess this makes us a very demanding generation and I believe employers will become the ones to be flexible, instead of the employees.
Source: Weekend Knack nr.15, April 8th until April 14th, 2009 pg.25-30
My internship will take place at the local government of the city of Ghent. I will function as a project communication assistant. The project concerned is called “Revitalisering Oude Industriehavens” or “Revitalising Old Industrial Harbours”. Together with seven other cities in Belgium and the Netherlands, including Antwerp, Hasselt, Leuven, Oostende, Roermond, Tilburg and Vlissingen, Ghent will start turning the old harbour into a new lively environment to work and live in. They will also create a book and a dvd on how the old quays are developing. Everything will be recorded on tape before, during and after the changes. This project is just a small part of Ghent’s bigger mission, namely “Mission 2020″. This mission deals with ideas on what the city should look like in 2020 according to governments and according to the inhabitants of the city themselves. Getting everyone involved is of major importance, so I think Ghent is doing a wonderful job being socially responsible!
This nice piece of street art was to be seen in Stockholm. It was designed by the American artist Kurt Wenner on commission of Absolut Vodka.
This spectacular and beautiful example of a illusionary street campaign is a 3D chalk drawing on the pavement in a park. The print was part of the brand’s prestigious art ad series. The creation of Wenner’s art was also filmed by Absolut Vodka for a television commercial.
In the beginning, street art, which is any art developed in public places, was used to show activism and to create a powerful platform for reaching a large public.
Graffiti is the most popular and most known form of street art. Street art is popular, alive and kicking. There is even a website that is like a database, on which all street art in the world is indicated.
As street marketers must always be up-to-date and innovative, they use the latest and talked-about ways to surprise the people. They picked up on this trend and made artists design wonderful art ads.
Other examples designed by Kurt Wenner are the campaign for Microsoft’s X-game Gear of War and the Honda Formula 1 for Lucky Strike Racing.
Frauke De Graeve
Brxl Bravo (say: Brussel Bravo) is a non-profit organisation that organises an arts festival in Brussels, from 2 to 4 October 2009. 150 organisations take part in it, both Dutch- and French-speaking. The festival lays stress on the cooperation, exchange of ideas and on diversity – in languages, cultures and artistic disciplines.
This year the third edition takes place. The previous editions were in 2005 and 2007 and they were a huge success.
Brxl Bravo is much more than just open day in the art galleries and concert halls. It is a socio-cultural event, that wants to reach all ranks of society, like children and underprivileged people. It is not only for the typical culture-loving public. On the programme, there are dancing and music performances, but also work shops and interactive sessions for drama and music.
I am charged to write the brochure for the festival, in which all the art projects will be presented. Further, I will prepare a press conference and I will be responsible for the communication with the different projects. I also get the opportunity to work with the different authorities in Brussels. We will work closely together with amongst others Bozar and KVS, and maybe the Swedish community in Brussels, which I would like very much.
Frauke De Graeve