Multilingual Business Communication

February 28, 2009

Broadcast your news on the BBC

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, employee communication, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:39 pm

The BBC already receives several videos, e-mails and pictures by its viewers on a weekly basis. Now they have decided to up the ante: the BBC asks its viewers to send in more footage that is related to the news. They will then choose which items will be featured on a new show called “Your World News”, which will be presented by Siobhan Courtney and which will be broadcast every Friday on BBC World News. What is more, if you are lucky to capture a current news event, your video or pictures “may be used immediately on any BBC News outlet”. This is undoubtly a good marketing strategy, as it will allow the BBC to choose from more footage. However, the BBC is careful to add that “you should never put yourself in danger or break any laws” when you are attempting to record a news event.

Great as this may seem, there is a minor catch, though. The BBC’s terms and conditions mention that “you agree to grant us a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to publish and otherwise use the material in any way that we want, and in any media worldwide.” Still, they allow you to own the copyright and promise to publish your name on the website.

Siobhan Courtney

Siobhan Courtney

Aagje Verbogen


Go and spread the word…

Filed under: employee communication, lien van den broeck — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 2:12 pm

Employee communication is a very important aspect that is often neglected. However, if you do it right, your company will blossom. To help companies, Fleischmann-Hillard, a famous communication agency, has created a guideline for employee communication:

There are 9 steps a company must take.

1. Assess the situation. This means collecting as many information as possible.

2. Develop a communications document. This document contains key messages and the business goals.

3. Align senior management. It is crucial that you have the support of all your senior managers. Often, these people have a lot of influence, so it’s good to have them on your side.

4. Engage middle management. That way, they will feel more connected to the company.

5. Begin a dialogue, not a monologue. Let your employees play a role in your succes. If they are happy, they can serve as ambassadors.

6. Determine the right mix of communication channels. The keywords here are: less is more.

7. Measure results. Show these results to your employees, make sure they notice them.

8. Establish a system of reward and recognition. This provides long lasting performance improvements.

9. Stay the course. Succes won’t happen overnight, it takes a while. In the end, however, it’s worth the effort.

So go and spread the word to your employees…

February 24, 2009

UCB offers 100 extra jobs!

Filed under: employee communication, Poelaert Nathalie — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 10:13 am

Great news: the pharmaceutical enterprise UCB will create 100 extra jobs in their branch at Eigenbrakel!

This news shows a harsh contrast with the flow of dismissals daily put forward in our newspapers. Every week several companies announce reorganization or the dismissals of several employees.

Nevertheless, the news about these extra jobs might come across as a little paradox! Several months ago UCB announced the worldwide dismissal of 2400 employees and 450 out of the 2400 dismissals would be employees of the branch at Eigenbrakel. So if you make a quick calculation, 350 employees will be fired at Eigenbrakel.

However, we should not see this in a quantitative way, but we should look at this from a qualitative perspective. UCB claims to have a logical explanation. These changes fit in their SHAPE-plan, a plan to reorganize UCB’s strategy at the pharmaceutical market. Their goal is to shift their activities to another focus. Furthermore, UCB says that these extra jobs require different competences.

Nathalie Poelaert

February 21, 2009

GM and Opel collide

Filed under: crisis communication, lien van den broeck — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 5:13 pm

It’s not a secret that GM is in trouble, even though they were bailed out by the US government. GM had to come up with a rescueplan in order to benefit from the federal aid. In this plan, they announced that 26.000 jobs outside the US will disappear. However, the company didn’t mention the plants that should close. As a result, there’s a lot of turmoil in the Opel factory in Antwerp, which is a part of GM.

This is not a good example of crisis communication. With this type of communication it’s very important to name facts and figures. The more concrete, the better. This should be done as soon as possible. Instead, GM delayed the final decision until March, 31, as can be read on this link:

In crisis communication, there are 3 “sounds” one should remember. Ooh, stands for objectify, Eeh for empathise and Aah for action. GM clearly forgot to objectify as much as possible.

Now, the workers of the Opel plant in Antwerp fear for their future and will continue to do so, at least until March, 31.

February 19, 2009

Jewish leaders outraged by Pope’s welcoming back Holocaust denier

Filed under: crisis communication, Wouter Deconinck — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:49 pm

Pope Benedict A few weeks ago the Pope has outraged Jewish leaders by welcoming back into the Roman Catholic Church a previously excommunicated bishop who denies the Holocaust. The British bishop, Richard Williamson, recently told Swedish TV (watch video) that evidence “is hugely against 6 million Jews being deliberately gassed.” He said only 300,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis, “but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber.”

Pope Benedict was slow to react, a major error to my opinion. Jewish leaders fulminated against his silence and the Pope was eventually put under more pressure to make a stand against anti-Semitism. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel phoned Pope Benedict about the issue and demanded that the pope firmly reject Holocaust denial. The Vatican reacted by pointing to several statements by Pope Benedict in the past few years condemning the destruction of European Jewry, including his visits to concentration camps. The Pope said he did not know of Williamson’s views on the Holocaust when he lifted the excommunication, which was to my opinion too less a reaction to restore order among Jewish leaders.

Eventually, due to the risen pressure the Pope met American Jewish leaders at the Vatican and made the statement, quite late I believe, that the Catholic Church is “profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism” and that the Shoa was a crime against God and against humanity. Jewish reactions to the pope’s speech were broadly – but not uniformly – positive.

Pope Benedict should have reacted faster and should have made a stronger statement, especially because of his own past. After his 14th birthday in 1941, Pope Benedict – then called Joseph Ratzinger – was forced to join the Hitler Youth. However, his biographer said Ratzinger’s family was strongly anti-Nazi. You should believe Pope Benedict would have reacted fiercely as he has experienced the Nazi period himself but this was clearly not the case.

February 15, 2009

Survival of the fittest

Filed under: crisis communication, marketing communication, Valérie Debrauwere — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 5:31 pm


In these volatile times, battles are fought on every level of society. The latest power struggle takes place between Delhaize and Unilever. On the one hand, retailers try to entice customers by providing them with alternatives to more expensive products. They stress the combination of quality and cheapness and create more private labels. On the other hand, companies are having difficulties coping with inflation and the rising cost of raw materials to manufacture their products. Consequently a lot of brands undergo a price rise which is felt by both retailers and customers.


Delhaize refuses to continue to accept this and now boycotts the products from Unilever. The products are banned from Delhaize’s shelves, while other brands are being suggested to the customer through in-store marketing campaigns. Unilever from their side have started a campaign to promote the availability of their products in other stores. There are only two possibilities left: The customer could switch to other in-store brands or he could seek his much sought after goods elsewhere.


Another aspect that, to my opinion, could determine the outcome of this “fight” is: What’s the most important for the Belgian customer (according to the marketing theory of shopping motivation)? Is he looking for an overall shopping experience, a nice atmosphere and the possibility to try or taste the product, something Delhaize is quite known for? Or is the range of products offered by a shop and the easiness in obtaining them, his main concern?  Whatever the answer to these questions may be, I think neither of them will profit from this decision. Some customers might well be impressed by Delhaize’s decision for now, but how long will it last? Other customers might also not like this patronizing attitude and would want to retain the opportunity of free choice.


Delhaize or Unilever? Only the strongest will survive.




(Valérie Debrauwere)

February 10, 2009

NetGeners on the workfloor: what to expect and how to treat them

Filed under: employee communication, Hannelore Blomme — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:58 pm

In times of crisis, the new generation of workforce, often called ‘the Millenials’, ‘Generation Y’ or ‘the Net Generation’, are finding it hard to settle in their jobs. The problem is that they prefer an open and collaborative style, as opposed to the command-and-control model managers prefer in times of crisis.

These managers, however, should not forget the value of the newcomers in the labour market. For instance, as these youngsters are familiar with social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, they are experts in creating buzz among their peers. They are also very flexible, and willing to move to other countries or work overtime. And they are experts at doing different things at a time. Managers had better do efforts to keep them motivated, as workloads are getting tougher. Above all, they should give them regular feedback about their performance, as NetGeners typically thrive on feedback. A new computer application, called ‘Rypple’, has been especially designed for that purpose.

sources: the Economist: Generation Y goes to work
the Economist: the Rypple effect

February 8, 2009

“Hello honey, the plane has just taken off.”

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:02 pm


Ryanair has found a new way to distinguish itself: thanks to a new technology that weakens the signal from mobile phones, its passengers will be able to make phonecalls on the plane. Everybody will be able to use text messages and send e-mails, but only six passengers will be allowed to call at one time. The facility will be tested this month on flights from Dublin and it will be available on 40 of Ryanair’s planes by the end of the summer. Although a fixed price has not been mentioned yet, it is estimated that the calls would cost about £2 a minute.

One can wonder whether this really is a good marketing strategy. For one, it might prevent other passengers from enjoying their flight. I know I would not be that happy sitting next to somebody who is incessantly talking into his phone. Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, is not bothered. He simply says: “If you want a quiet flight, use another airline. Ryanair is noisy, full and we are always trying to sell you something.” Charlie Prior, a spokesman for OnAir –the company that designed the new technology- tries to soothe customers by saying that “The rates of the calls mean that passengers only use the service for two minutes at the very most.” He also adds that a customer survey has shown that passengers do not object to the facility and that the crew can switch it off so that you can only text and e-mail. Still, as O’Leary expects that the facility will increase revenues, I doubt whether the company will really prevent people from calling.

Aagje Verbogen

February 5, 2009

Need cash? Ask Bailout Bill

Filed under: Anja Peleman, business communication, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 7:28 pm

Was2154617The past two days must have been the most luckily moment of those people in need for money. A mystery man, calling himself ‘Bailout Bill’, handed out cash in New York. What people had to do for this? Not so much. First of all, standing in line for the ‘Bailout Booth’, a small cubicle, in the heart of Manhattan’s Times Square. Secondly, telling their problems to an assistant standing in front of the cubicle. And that’s it. Everyone was said to receive something. The minimum anyone could get is $50 with the maximum of $5,000.

A striking question is of course: why would anyone do something like that? Bailout Bill himself says there are two goals: firstly, it’s partly a publicity stunt for a new website, Secondly, ‘the mystery man’ says he also wants to help ordinary people in the same way that the US government is bailing out banks and other corporations. With this second statement, I do believe Bailout Bill wants to soften the real marketing basis of this stunt.

That’s also the reason why I do wonder the objectivity of this marketing stunt. wr_420_bailoutbill-420x0In my opinion, just handing out money to those people who are in need for it, seems to be an irrealistic fairytale. There is of course more in it for ‘Bailout Bill’ than just showing his good heart. Why should otherwise the cubicle be surrounded by people holding banners with the website printed on them? But I do wonder if the people who received money really cared about the fact that this website exists? Will a stunt like this be able to boost the number of visitors of this website? Nevertheless, I do have to say that it truly is a marketing stunt worth mentioning.

Anja Peleman

February 4, 2009

The talented are jumping ship

Filed under: employee communication, Trui Lagae — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:04 am

jump2With a negative effect of the economic crisis on just about any company, fear among employees of losing their jobs is at an all-time high. Nearly 50% of Belgian employees expect redundancies in the firm they work for (Metro, section “Jobtime”, 3 February 2009). Marc van Veldhoven from the University of Tilburg warns that this fear and the resulting behaviour may damage companies even more.

The fact is that during volatile times the most talented  people are the first to look out for a new job and hand in their letter of resignation. On average they have better contacts outside the company, are smarter and more proactive, which explains their behaviour. For a company losing their best employees results in a slower recovery after the crisis. However, Marc van Veldhoven  also remarks a positive consequence. Those employees who prefer to stay, often feel they have to perform their level best: they worker harder and fewer report sick.(full article and comments)

Still, I believe it is vital to prevent your most talented people from leaving. Even when it is still unclear how many people will be made redundant, give your talented employees the certainty that they will not be among those redundancies.

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