Multilingual Business Communication

April 7, 2009

Filed under: internship, marketing communication, Séverine De Ryck — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 4:37 pm


In May, I will start my internship at SBS Belgium in Zaventem. This company is part of the German ProSiebenSat.1 Media Group. Maybe these names don’t sound familiar to you, but you will definitely know the Flemish commercial t.v. channels VT4 and VijfTV. Although the two channels are clearly related to each other, they both have their own target group and marketing strategy.

VT4 started broadcasting on 1 February 1995, and is aimed to young people from 15 to 44 year old. The broadcasting station started without a Belgian license and got round the Flemish rules by transmitting with a U-turn construction from the UK. After some image switches, the current VT4 house style and logo were introduced in 2002. Since then, self-made Belgian programs are its core business, of which the most famous are Peking Express, Temptation Island, Het Hotel, Huizenjacht etc. These programs represent the main values of the broadcast channel: Friends, Adventure, Temptation and Attitude. VT4 has an average market share of 10%.

In October 2004, VijfTV was launched as a sister channel of VT4. Its target group are women between 20 and 49 years old. Soon this well-orientated channel had a market share of some 5 %. It is famous for its programs ‘Komen Eten’, ‘Help mijn man is een klusser’, ‘Droomhuis onder de zon’ etc, but it also scores with ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’.

During my traineeship, I’ll work on the Press Relations department. I’ll scan the newspapers and magazines to see what is written about SBS’s programs and employees. I’ll write press releases, and organize press conferences. I’m very glad that I get the chance to work for this modern and challenging company, as I am a frequent watcher of its programs myself! I’ll do anything in my power to make the viewing figures skyrocket!


The worst is yet to come

Filed under: employee communication, Séverine De Ryck — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 2:53 pm

LONDON - NOVEMBER 12:  Members of the public make their way to the Job Centre Plus in Westminster, on November 12, 2008 in London, England. The number of people out of work in the UK now stands at 1.82 million, the highest it has been for the past 11 years. Economists are predicting that unemployment could top 2 million in the coming months.

In The Economist of March 21st, an analysis is made of the current unemployment in Britain. Although the credit crunch has many victims, the suffering is most manifest in the long list of ordinary working men and women who applied at employment agencies, for example Jobcentreplus, the state’s job-search agency. Nevertheless, in 2005 the Labour Party guaranteed full employment in every region of the UK by 2010. At this moment, this promise seems quite unreachable, as the number of people out of work and looking for jobs has climbed to more than 2 million for the first time since 1997. Contrary to earlier recessions, the unemployment is now widespread across all the regions in the country. Another difference is that in the current crisis, every social class and occupation is affected. According to Tom Hadley of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), employment agencies have now to help well-paid people who have never before lost their jobs. This has even worse consequences for the economy, as a record number of people are claiming jobseeker’s allowance. James Purnell, the work and pensions secretary, thinks that it is important to prevent short-term unemployed people from turning into long-term jobless. To do so, the state is planning to give businesses that hire people who have been unemployed for six months or more £ 1.000 per worker, and an additional £ 1,500 for training. The Economist says this strategy makes some sense, although this money will go to employers that intend to hire anyway. To me, it sounds quite unlogical. This operation is presented as being completely normal. But still the situation is quite critical at the moment. A lot of extra unemployed people ask for an allowance, but the state still would like to give a bonus to the hiring businesses. I wonder where the government is going to get all this money.

The Economist, A flood of misery, March 21st-27th 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 22, 2009

The new political weapon: Facebook!

Filed under: marketing communication, Séverine De Ryck — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:51 pm

During the Democratic primaries in 2007, Barack Obama did everything he could to become more popular than his rival Hillary Clinton. To make the most of his chances, he started to use the social netwerk site Facebook. Very soon, the group ‘Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack)” had garnered 259,647 members. With this medium, Obama succeeded in mobilising millions of Americans to hang posters and to run door-to-door campaigns. For the eventual presidential election, Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook worked as a volunteer for Obama and had a big impact on his eventual victory. 

Inspired by this easy way of free publicity, Belgian politicians are preparing themselves for the Flemish and European elections on 7 June, 2009. Annick De Ridder, a not so well known member of the Flemish Parliament, called on her 1600 Facebook friends to help her with her campaign. In her message, she asks for volunteers to help her stick posters, to place billboards, and to accompany her in running a city campaign. In the few days her message has been launched, she has received a lot of positive reactions. Also Marino Keulen, the Flemish Minister for Home Affairs is running his first campaign on Facebook. He invited his friends to attain an informational meeting about his policy, and he announces that he organizes a prom on 9 May. Even Yves Leterme (CD&V) posts pictures on Facebook to mobilise his supporters, and probably also to polish up his damaged image. As a consequence of the financial crisis, political parties have to cut down their marketing budget, just as normal businesses do. I’m curious if these Belgian Facebook campaign will be as successful as those in the United States.

Het Laatste Nieuws 21-22 March 2009 p. 2: Hét campagne-wapen: Facebook

November 2, 2008

Mister Clean rocks your house!

Filed under: marketing communication, Séverine De Ryck — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:34 pm

Encouraged by the upcoming American presidential elections, ‘De Standaard’ has dedicated an entire quire of its weekend newspaper (1-2/11/’08) to the way of life in the US. In the section ‘Made in the USA‘, some famous Belgian athletes and artists are asked for their favourite American product. When they pose the question to Wim Delvoye, the successful visual artist, he expresses his respect for brands that really became ‘icons’, when he mentions Harley Davidson, Starbucks and Coca-Cola. He likes them for their artistic logos, which make them extremely recognizable. But still, his favourite American product is quite an unexpected one: Mister Clean. According to Delvoye, this guy has it all: ‘he has something Afro-American, but he is still white. He is somewhat homosexual, but he is definitely straight.’ Delvoye claims to know the story behind Mr. Clean’s earring: in the fifties, psychologists decided to make the guy somewhat homosexual, so that the (desperate) housewives didn’t have to feel guilty for being helped by a beautiful, strong man. He was every woman’s friend, without being a threat to her marriage, just because of his earring! Marketing can be a simple issues, but it becomes even more successful when there is a strong strategy behind it. 

Delvoye is sure about the fact that American brands like Coca-Cola and Mr. Clean will always be successful, even if the American global power will decrease steadily in the future. These brands will adjust themselves to the continuously changing market. I agree on Delvoye’s point of view, bacause bad news is quickly banished from our minds. Although some Belgian Coca-Cola bottles where polluted in 1999, soon no one doubted anymore about buying a Coke in the supermarket. Or when I would want to buy an Opel within a year, I won’t bother anymore about the problems GM suffers today. We live in a fast moving world, but strong brands will always survive.       

De Standaard, Oost-Vlaanderen (31 October, 1 & 2 November 2008) p. 37

October 29, 2008

KBC receives 3,5 billion from Belgian government

Filed under: crisis communication, Séverine De Ryck — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 9:04 pm

On Monday October 27th, KBC announced that the Belgian government would inject 3,5 billion euro in the financial group. Contrary to what we would expect, this transaction is not caused by liquidity or solvency problems, but by the growing need to strengthen the bank’s competitive position. Due to the fact that more and more banks in Europe received money of their government to counter the financial crisis, KBC felt the danger of suffering competitive disadvantages. Thanks to the Belgian injection, KBC is now the bank with the best position in the Benelux. This transaction is not a bailout like it was the case with Ethias, Dexia and Fortis, which were on the edge of collapsing. KBC was never in danger.

To communicate this injection to its costumers, KBC did the best it could with posting all information about the transaction on their website and in the newspapers, together with an official press release. Besides, the pictures of smiling representatives send a positive message to the clients.On Sunday however, the Frenchspeaking State Secretary of Finances, Bernard Clerfayt, did say that KBC had liquidity problems. This was an enormous blunder, and he had to swallow these words immediately. You would expect that important companies, especially banks, agree in advance on a common statement to communicate to the public. KBC-bankers were very dissapointed in the way the company organized its communication. Even though KBC is not in crisis, it does appear to the crowd that it is, which we can see in frustrated blog posts at newspaper websites.

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