Multilingual Business Communication

April 8, 2009

Rewarding your employees in times of crisis

Filed under: Dorien Heiremans, employee communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:57 pm


When the economy was booming, companies found all kinds of new ways to motivate and reward their employees: excessive corporate parties, bonuses and extraordinary benefits. Now a survey by Quantum Workplace, a firm that runs employee-management surveys, has pointed out that there was a significant decline in engagements to boost workers’ commitment in 2008 for the first time since many years.

Part of the problem is that companies have often turned to expensive ways of thanking their employees but of course now there is less money to spend. In January, many companies had to cut down on the budget for New Year’s corporate parties and for example, did not invite employees’ partners anymore, while they still did in 2008. Employees have also complained that the management does not inform them regularly anymore about the companies’ successes and downturns.

A way of cutting costs and rewarding employees at the same time, may be to “tailor performance incentives to reward employees who can show that they have cut costs and improved efficiency,” says Gerwyn Davies, a public policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, to Times Online.

I believe that keeping your staff motivated does not only consist of rewarding them with excessive benefits, but is also made up of having an open relationship and creating a good working atmosphere, by organising for example events which do not necessarily have to be expensive. Regularly organising small events, such as maybe a collective coffee break or a football tournament may be even more effective than just paying your employees extra money.

See also: Disengagement party from


Hill & Knowlton: providing public relations and public affairs services

Filed under: Dorien Heiremans, internship — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 10:23 am


With all the fast food available and more and more people suffering from obesity and high cholesterol, lots ofensa-logo1 people are looking for healthy alternatives. Soy products can be such an alternative. The soy bean contains lots of protein and is the main ingredient of many dairy product substitutes. The European Natural Soyfood Manufacturers Association or ENSA brings together great and small companies that are involved in the production of natural food based on soy. One of its goals is that people around Europe get correct and documented information on soy.


Hill & Knowlton, a public relations and affairs bureau with a department in Brussels, provides the ENSA with its services across the EU. The ENSA case is only one of many topics on which Hill & Knowlton is working at the moment. Amongst its clients are also Adidas, for which H&K tries to map the EU’s corporate social responsibility agenda, and Merrill Lynch, for which H&K tries to convince the European institutions not to completely overhaul the existing legislation.

Hill & Knowlton always has some interns in its crew, whose daily assignments include media monitoring and preparing cases and meetings. This will be what I will be doing during my internship at Hill & Knowlton from 22nd of June until the 21st of August. What can be more interesting than following up the news and media as a job?

April 7, 2009

Hop on the Coffee Bar on Wheels!

Filed under: company, Dorien Heiremans, Frauke De Graeve, Séverine De Ryck, Wouter Deconinck — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:52 pm

In a few months, the festival season is starting again. To create a cosy festival atmosphere, you do not only need good music vibes and nice weather, but also tasty food and drinks onlogo-coffeebar1 the spot. Apart from the traditional beer and coke, festival visitors sometimes feel like having a warming cup of coffee.

We have hit upon a mobile coffee bar that deserves to get more attention: the eXpresso Coffee Bar on Wheels. This project was started by Jan and Frieda Markey from Bruges, when they observed the lack of delicious coffee at festivals and corporate parties. They offer a wide variety of flavours, like ristretto, cappuccino and caffe latte, from a vintage, eye-catching ’61 Airstream Globetrotter.

Last year, the Coffee Bar on Wheels was invited to Jazz Middelheim and Cactus Festival and the success was immense.

To convince festival organisers to hire the Coffee Bar on Wheels, we have written a sales letter and created a brochure, in which we gave more information on prices and the story behind the Coffee Bar. Hopefully you will spot them at the next festival you visit.

Airstream GlobetrotterAirstream Globetrotter

March 16, 2009

Crisis makes companies quiet

Filed under: crisis communication, Dorien Heiremans, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:12 pm

To give their shareholders some indication of future profits, dividends or company success, it is common for companies to publish financial targets for the year to come.

Recently some companies, such as Unilever, have opted to refrain from giving earnings estimates for 2009. They have done so because they claim forecasts can never be accurate during these times of financial turmoil or because they are afraid pessimistic predictions will have a negative effect on share prices. However, the Economist warns for companies that refuse to issue their annual financial targets because it may be an indication of an underprepared management or an excuse to avoid to be held acountable for possibly bad results.

While it is true that the recent crisis has made it harder to accurately make predictions, let alone positive predictions, not making any predictions at all may be an unwise choice. Especially during these uncertain times, it is important to maintain good investor relations.

Dorien Heiremans.

November 1, 2008

“Shaken, not stirred.”

Filed under: Dorien Heiremans, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:21 pm

The new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, has been released in the UK on 31 October 2008 and is due in Belgium on the 5th of November. James Bond movies are considered textbook examples of product placement. Companies pay huge amounts of money to get their products used visibly in one or more Bond movie scenes, thus increasing the budget of the films tremendously. Die Another Day (2002) has been nicknamed Buy Another Day due to its wide use of product placement. Corporate advertising was less obvious in following James Bond movies, but Quantum of Solace is again back on track.

Examples of product placement in previous James Bond films are abundant. In  The World is not Enough and Die Another Day, 007 uses Samsonite suitcases on his assignments. Bond drove a BMW in several movies, but since Die Another Day, he’s back behind the steering wheel of an Aston Martin. The most famous example may very well be “Shaken, not stirred,” by which the secret agent has ordered many Martinis and which has become a catch phrase which people automatically link to the brand.
The latest 007 film is no different, says The Independent: advertised products include the new Ford Ka, Aston Martin, Coca Cola’s Coke Zero, Sony Ericsson cell phones, and so on. But as common people’s preference for certain brands changes, so does James Bond’s. As mentioned, he has switched between BMW and Aston Martin, but he has also exchanged his Rolex for an Omega and as opposed to a regular Martini, he now likes to drink Smirnoff Vodkas.    

New Ford Ka

New Ford Ka

Smirnoff Vodka

Smirnoff Vodka


Some people like this kind of product placement; I think it is part of the fun watching a Bond movie to recognize all the products. Nevertheless, Quantum of Solace does take it very far. Cars slowly drive in front of the camera, so you clearly get to see the brand during a whole second. It’s just not subtle anymore.

Sometimes product placement can be taken too far outside the entertainment business as well, for example when it is used in the news on TV. The magazine Advertising Age reported on a news broadcast in Las Vegas in which the news anchors’ desk was adorned with iced-coffee drinks from Mc Donald’s. Product placement has become serious business, but when it starts to invade non-fiction, you may start to question the journalists’ integrity and the sponsor’s influence on the reported news, says Advertising Age.

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