Multilingual Business Communication

April 9, 2009

How to fire someone properly?

Filed under: Elisa Van Peteghem, employee communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 5:12 pm

Those who saw the popular Belgian television programme ‘Mijn restaurant’ last week have witnessed how one of the five participants, chef Claudio Dell’Anno, fired his waiter Benjamin. The angry chef scolded at the waiter and went through his backpack, thereby insinuating that the waiter was a thief. From that moment onwards, people started expressing their discontent on various websites. Moreover, articles on the chef’s impious behaviour towards his personnel have been published in several newspapers.

The incident at ‘Mijn restaurant’ made me wonder: Is there a right way to fire someone?, an American business website, has created a guideline with useful tips:

  1. Check your past feedback,
  2. Give them a warning,
  3. Focus on specific behavior goals,
  4. Fire early in the week and never on a Friday,
  5. Make it short, sweet and to the point,
  6. Do not let the employee linger,
  7. Ask for a release, and give the employee an incentive to sign it,
  8. Reassign the terminated employee’s job duties promptly,
  9. Do not fight the employee’s claim for unemployment benefits,
  10. Get the job done.

To sum up: be well-prepared!


How bad communication has changed the world

Filed under: crisis communication, Elisa Van Peteghem — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:14 pm

On November 9, 2009, millions of people will commemorate the 20th birthday of the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, it is not widely known that the 9th of November 1989 became a historic day due to a communicative misunderstanding. At a press conference that day, Günter Schabowski, SED-functionary and member of the Politbüro, declared that East Berlin citizens – after 28 years of seperation – were allowed to cross the West Berlin borders. He added that the decision came into force from that moment onwards. But, Schabowski was not properly informed on the decisions taken by the SED-party leaders: The borders were only meant to open the next day.

Apparently, Schabowski missed some key training in “how to give a proper interview/press conference” and unintentionally made the 9th of November a historic day. Although we cannot deplore his communicative mistakes, he should have kept following rules for a good interview in mind:

  1. Know your message
  2. Be honest and open
  3. Avoid jargon
  4. Anticipate difficult questions by preparation
  5. Evade irrelevant questions by returning to your main message
  6. Respect the journalist, be polite
  7. Assess the journalist
  8. Follow a media training

The power of endorsements

Filed under: Elisa Van Peteghem, internship — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 2:08 pm


For my internship at the city of Ghent, I will have to work as a communication assistant in the build-up to the annual Accenta fair, which takes place at Flanders Expo in September. At the fair, all sorts of leisure activities will be displayed. The city of Ghent, a partner of this event, has chosen the Turkish region Izmir as the fair’s central theme. Zeynep Sever, current Miss Belgium with Turkish roots, will promote the fair and more specifically the area of Izmir.

Organisations and companies are frequently tempted to engage in million dollar deals in order to let a celebrity promote their products. This approach is often succesful, as media campaigns using a well-known face receive a lot of attention. However, de Standaard recently published the results of a Mediaedge research which proved that the testimonials of famous people are not always effective. Three key rules should be remembered:

1. the celebrity should be trustworthy;

2. the celebrity should be likeable;

3. there has to be a connection between the imago of the celebrity and the product he or she is promoting.

I personally think that Zeynep Sever meets all three requirements but of course, we will have to wait until September to see whether the cooperation with Miss Belgium has paid off.

April 4, 2009

Alfatechnics: beyond packaging

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, company, Elisa Van Peteghem, marketing communication, Marlène Bragard — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:00 pm

Nearly all the products you buy at your local supermarket are wrapped. Have you ever thought about how this is done? If you were going to set up your own company, you would have. Because in that case, you would be in need of Alfatechnics’ help. This Belgian company namely acts as an intermediary between manufacturers of packaging machines and companies in need of such machines.


Exactly how does Alfatechnics work? Benny Verbist, the manager, first sits down with the customer and helps him or her to determine which kind of machine their company needs. Then he contacts Alfatechnics’ partners who will not only deliver the machine but who will also adjust it to the client’s specific needs. Finally, the machine is integrated into the production line, taking care of the specificities of the production line.

Now why would a company use Alfatechnics’ help instead of ordering a machine themselves? It is because Alfatechnics offers them various benefits that they would have to do without otherwise. First of all, Mr. Verbist has years of experience in the field of packaging. He knows the market and he works closely together with the best producers of packing machines available. Secondly, as Alfatechnics cooperates with several producers, the clients get to choose from a larger number of machines. Finally, Alfatechnics invests in durable relationships with its clients and takes care of MRO.

Alfatechnics definitely goes beyond a regular packaging solution: the focus is on the client and his packaging needs are met in the best possible way.

Aagje Verbogen
Elisa Van Peteghem
Marlène Bragard

November 2, 2008

Virgin launches “No way, BA/AA” campaign

Filed under: Elisa Van Peteghem, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 9:48 am

Due to the soaring oil prices, many airlines have been forced to raise their ticket prices to remain profitable. The aviation industry has already seen a lot of small players going down and now the bigger companies are also getting worried. Two months ago, in September 2008, British Airways and American Airlines, already trying to merge since 1998, have signed a joint agreement, which “enable the airlines to reduce costs and attract new customers, helping to mitigate pressure on airfares from record fuel costs.”

Seems like British Airways and American Airlines are joining forces to keep their tickets prices low! But…is their joint agreement really this noble?

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, an airline which also offers transatlantic flights, strongly disagrees. He claims that, if British Airways and American Airlines would merge, they would have a “monster monopoly”. This merger would have a stranglehold on UK-US flights, forcing the prices to go up. To prevent the merger, Branson has launched an advertising campaign called “No way, BA/AA”, which can been found on the Virgin website, on Facebook, and … on airplanes!


I believe that Branson is very well aware of the consequences of this merger for his own company. He claims that he wants to prevent it in order to stabilize ticket prices, however, I doubt whether he is this grand himself. Isn’t his main priority to secure his company’s own revenue?

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