Multilingual Business Communication

March 31, 2009

Can I please use a US toilet?

Filed under: Anja Peleman, business communication, crisis communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:17 pm

This is what Gennady Padalka, a Russian cosmonaut on the International Space Station (ISS) is asking, because he is no longer allowed to use a US toilet on the Station. Conversely, he is being asked to use only national toilets. This is not the first time something like this happens, Mr. Padalka is also no longer allowed to use a US exercise bike. Moreover, the US and Russian cosmonauts now have to eat their own rations. Honestly, I do have to say that all of this does sound a bit banal, but I can imagine this may create some unpleasant situations up there in space. That is also the reason why I am wondering: how can situations like this be created?

Mr. Padalka himself blames the upcoming commercial aspect of the space missions since 2003, where Moscow started billing Washington for sending its astronauts into space. Take for example the US billionaire Charles Simonyi, a software tycoon who paid $35m for a 13-day trip to the station. It are ‘trips’ like these that create a kind of hindrance for the astronauts living on the Station, for having less space then. Next to that, Mr. Padalka blames the politicians for situations like these: “Cosmonauts are above the ongoing squabble, no matter what officials decide. It’s politicians and bureaucrats who can’t reach agreement, not us”.

Let us hope that his words can help to let the politicians realize that this Cold War-like stand-off must be solved very soon, so that Mr. Padalka can use the toilet he would like.

Anja Peleman


Make your customers feel at home: create the right mood…

Filed under: Ankie Dees, business communication, company, Lana Robignon, Maud Bonte — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 7:56 pm

What makes one gym more attractive than another? Most gyms have similar types of equipment, they all organize spinning classes and aerobic workouts, most of them have saunas and a solarium…

We think the answer to this question is the atmosphere. Whether or not you feel at ease in your fitness centre depends largely on the ambiance you can create. We believe that a comfortable, invigorating environment is an imperative to work out. People are no longer solely motivated by health considerations when visiting a gym. They want to enjoy the club feeling and want to be entertained. Music is a very important, if not the most important, element of creating a dynamic and diverting atmosphere. Creating the right vibe in your gym protects you from the pitfall many gyms are faced with: the dropping out of members. More than 46% of gym members do not renew their subscription. The VJ-Matic can be a valuable asset to help you reduce that number.

The VJ-Matic answers just the needs that any manager of a gym may have. With the VJ-Matic full rental package you have access to 3500 of the latest songs and 1000 video clips. This surely will be enough to create just the right mood for your customers: lounge in the morning, pop rock in the afternoon, R’n’B in the evening.

Included in the price aredjmatic-klein

  • the rent of a powerful computer, one that can stand a good deal
  • the user friendly VJ-Matic interface
  • 3500 songs and 1000 video clips
  • a monthly update of the latest songs
  • full technical service within 24 hrs, a replacement PC if necessary

An extra plus: no need to worry about copyright. All kinds of royalties are included in the price.

The VJ-Matic: A win-win situation for every party involved!

Lana Robingon, Ankie Dees and Maud Bonte

Every city needs its sitcom

Filed under: internship, marketing communication, Maud Bonte — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 7:49 pm

It is hard to miss it nowadays when you are driving around inflikkenpet Ghent: April 18 is Flikkenparty! It is a last goodbye of the city and the police of Ghent to the production company Eyeworks and the Flikken-actors, after ten years of Flikken.

A proper goodbye is the least they can do. Ghent was probably the first city in Belgium to promote itself through a television program, though it invested heavily in Flikken: ‘€ 506 125’ mayor Termont recently revealed. But the return on investment was more than satisfying: thousands of tourists discovered Ghent, especially from the Netherlands, where the series is incredibly popular; and the last edition of the yearly Flikkendag attracted over 135 000 visitors. One cannot deny that the series refurbished the image of Ghent, and even more that of its police corps.

Flikken certainly was a trendsetter. City marketing through television programs is hot: Bruges has Aspe, Halle has Witse, Limburg has Katarakt, recently Brussels joined with Jes. Witse, Aspe and Katarakt have proven their success by attracting plenty of tourists and visitors.

Ostend, Eeklo, Mechelen, what are you waiting for?

Maud Bonte


March 29, 2009

Marketing for babies

Filed under: marketing communication, Maud Bonte — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:04 pm

A couple of weeks ago, De Standaard wrote ‘Belgian babies don’t eat balanced enough’. The same article announced the launch of a new website On this site you can do a test about your child’s diet and discuss with other parents. The article seemed neutral, but behind the website is Nutricia, the number one provider of babyfood.

When you are pregnant, you will soon find out you are a chosen marketing prey. A whole new world will open itself to you, you will learn about products that you never even heard of, but which all seem indispensable for nurturing and raising your baby. There is a very thin line between information and marketing and marketeers are eager to make you believe you need all this in order to raise a happy, healthy baby.

It is a miracle how we turned out OK, knowing that our parents didn’t have a Sangenic for dirty diapers or made our pap without a Babycook!

Maud Bonte

Exactly what Gen Y is looking for: Rypple at work

Filed under: employee communication, Karen Decabooter — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:26 pm



The Economist recently discovered a new online feedback tool that allows teachers, students, employees, managers, etc. to give and receive feedback on different topics. The Rypple tool can be used for bottom-up performance management at work.

Mr. Don Tapscott is the author of 12 books concerning the impact of Internet on society including ‘Grown up digital’. He claims that the top-down model of performance management, that  consists of one yearly feedback moment between managers and employees,  is  outdated. Just as they monitor their video games scores, the Net Generation wants to receive regular and interactive feedback at work too. If employers do not engage in a reciprocal relationship with their employees, the generation gap will endanger communication at work.

Thanks to Rypple, short questions and polls can be forwarded to managers, employees, clients or suppliers, who can answer quickly and anonymously. On the one hand, Rypple is an effective tool to get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, it saves time and money since it is free. On the other hand, older workers may feel intimidated and it may spoil the atmosphere at work since feedback is anonymous and not always constructive.  In conclusion, Rypple may not be perfect and it is still in its experimental phase, but don’t you think it is a useful, complementary tool next to traditional performance reviews?

 (Karen Decabooter)


Remark:  Rypple meets Facebook: On Facebook, you can add the tool Rypple NOW!. Moreover, Facebook Connect allows you to log on to Rypple using your Facebook password, and to bring your social context to Rypple.

How to write brochures that work

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, internship — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:02 pm


Have you ever considered using brochures to communicate about your company? They do not have to be boring pieces of information. Written well, a brochure will help your company boost its results.

There are at least two benefits to having your own brochure. Firstly, you gain credibility as “people expect a ‘real’ company to have printed sales literature.” Secondly, it is timesaving: your customers can read it at their leisure, you add a personal touch, and it supports the other means of communication you use.

Brochures make a first impression of your company, so you want to do it right. How do you start? Firstly, you have to know the audience you address. What information will they be looking for? Write from their point of view and create different brochures for each target group. Secondly, you have to motivate your customers to pick up the brochure. You do this by designing an exciting cover (limiting it to the company name or product just does not work). Also include photos to draw interest and write short and simple texts. Thirdly, make sure you use a good structure, preferably mirroring the order of your customers’ questions. If the brochure is eight pages or longer, include a contents page. Finally, when describing your product, stress its benefits rather than its features.

The last thing to do is to make sure that your customers will buy your product or your service. How you do this? Simply by adding “contact us”. If you want to make your brochure a keeper, do not hesitate to alter the A4 shape into e.g. a football, if that is what you are selling. Providing tips and tricks also helps your brochure stand a chance.

Still not feeling up to it? Then contact an advertising copywriter or a company such as Writing Machine.

Aagje Verbogen

March 27, 2009

Railway stations get a new name: “het Station”

Filed under: Lana Robignon, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:34 pm

het Station1.3 million Euros. That’s the price tag to come up with a new brand name for the railway stations in Belgium. According to the SNCB holding, train stations have become important intersections and are of real social importance. The name, “het Station”, needs to emphasise their new strategy.

To launch this new kind of railway station, the holding decided to invest in an image analysis. The market research institute Think/BBDO researched how commuters and customers experience the railway adventure and how they see the ideal railway station. Apparently, customers found it important that a railway station is dynamic and efficient, a place were you can save time. A place were one can shop, relax and still make it home on time. The stations who already live up to these expectations can now show off 4 colourful flags and a sign with the brand name displayed at the entrance.

However, this initiative, despite of it’s good intentions, seems to provoke some negative reactions, especially amongst travellers and commuters. Since the announcement of a new railway time table in December 2008, more than 1100 complaints have reached the ombudsman.

Spending millions of Euros on an image campaign and adding more shops to railway stations, without improving the infrastructure and travel connections, seems to be a bit wasteful. On average, people want to spend as little as time possible when commuting. They do not wish to shop till they drop after a hard day’s work. They do not want to sit and wait because their train is delayed, once again. They want to travel in comfortable trains. Instead of investing in these trigger zones, it seems the holding has spent too much money on a name that anyone of us could have come up with. Hopefully, the transformation will be more drastic than just a name change and more shopping facilities.


March 26, 2009

VTM surprises commuters at Antwerp Central Station

Filed under: Liesbeth Van Den Mosselaer, marketing communication — Tags: , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 7:21 pm

The first step of all marketing media is to get noticed. This marketing rule was taken to heart by the Flemish commercial television station VTM. To announce their newest reality television program “Op zoek naar Maria”, in which they want to find an actress to play the leading role in the musical version of The Sound of Music, they surprised the commuters at the Central Station in Antwerp.

On Monday morning 200 dancers infiltrated amongst the travellers in the central hall of the station. When a modern version of The Sound of Music hit “Do Re Mi” came through the speakers, a couple of them started to dance to the music. Gradually, more and more dancers, disguised as commuters, joined them until the entire hall was packed with a dancing crowd.

The stunt was a great success: apart from the commuters who witnessed the spectacle live in Antwerp, the videos on Youtube have already been viewed over 30.000 times.

A couple of months ago T-mobile launched a campaign with a similar stunt in the Liverpool Street Station in London. Could this be the beginning of a new advertising trend?

You can watch both stunts yourselves and decide which one you like best on: and

March 25, 2009

Powder, your partner in cream?

Filed under: Charlotte De Ruytter, company, Laura Moerman, Sophie Naveau — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 10:53 am

Nowadays, powder is often used as a base for traditional ice cream. It does sound suspect, doesn’t it?
Using powder to create smooth ice cream seems new, but in the world of ice-cream professionals this technique is very common. You might have already enjoyed such an ice cream without even knowing it!

Everybody is familiar with Italy as the ice-cream country par excellence. The Italian brand Pregel, one of the pioneers in ice-cream bases, already has a well-established reputation in our country. As a distributor of the Pregel product, the Belgian dairy company Cowi has acquired expertise in this area. Cowi has now developped its own ice-cream powder: Oro d’Oro. This ice-cream base has been designed especially for the Belgian climate. As 30°C is rather rare in our country, ice cream needs to be more than a mere refreshment. To satisfy the Belgian consumers, ice cream therefore needs to be fuller and richer. Oro d’Oro fulfills these requirements.


Oro d’Oro powder guarantees tasty and smooth ice-cream. You see, powder is not a suspect, it’s a partner!

(Charlotte De Ruytter, Laura Moerman, Sophie Naveau, Nina Vermaesen)

March 24, 2009

Business disaster, crisis or just bad news?

Filed under: business communication, crisis communication, Marlène Bragard — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 11:23 am

According to the article Survive the Unthinkable Through Crisis Planning, a distinction is commonly made between a business disaster or a crisis.

A crisis and a disaster are both negative for the company, but differ greatly. A disaster results in great damage, difficulty, or death (a fire or a flood for example). A crisis occurs when a situation has reached a very difficult or dangerous point. It is not always easy for the company to know whether it’s dealing with a crisis. What is certain is that not succeeding in handling a disaster will often lead to a crisis. When the scandal gets to the heart of the company and hits its credibility, it is clearly facing a crisis. Stock market drop, employee misconduct, product liability claims, manufacturing or design mistakes, accidents, etc., are all well-known examples of a crisis. The difference with bad news is that in the latter case, your company’s mission or ability to continue working on the long term is not affected.

I wonder however why this difference is so relevant when you know that in both cases, having a crisis communication plan is the only key to survival. This plan needs to be developed to cover any emergency your company might be expected to meet. The aim in developing it is to encourage your people to think how that could be handled efficiently. The goal of this communication plan is to be sure your people will be able to use some tools to minimize the damage and have the crisis (or the disaster) under control.

Be prepared!

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