Multilingual Business Communication

April 10, 2009

Talking with (not to) your employees about diversity

Filed under: employee communication, internship, Ruth Broekaert, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:11 pm

A couple of years ago only a few had heard of the term ‘diversity’. More and more managers have come to realize the importance and the benefits of a diverse workforce. Today diversity has truly become a hot topic for internal communication.

But internal communication is often not more than a one way stream of information. A lot of companies are telling their employees not to discriminate, to tolerate differences and so on. This of course is a good thing. But more effective internal communication leaves room for dialogue, and allows top-down and bottom-up communication to complement each other.

The city of Ghent recognizes that internal communication is in fact a two way street. To put this belief into practice the city’s program for diversity and equal opportunities has made a brochure that gives word to the employees. During workshops employees exchanged their experiences with diversity at the workplace. These stories were bundled into a brochure that has been distributed to all city departments. The success of the internal diversity campaign was acknowledged by Federal Minister of Work and Equal Opportunities Joëlle Milquet 1as she rewarded Ghent with the Label Diversity Equality.


Ruth Broekaert


It doesn’t hurt to try

Filed under: employee communication, Frauke De Graeve — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 2:55 pm


In times of crises, employers find it difficult to motivate their personnel. On the website of CIPD, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 10 hints to manage the workforce in a recession are listed.

The three most important hints are these:

  • Think long term.
    Be creative in reducing costs. Furthermore, keep in mind that it is expensive to lay people off and recruit new ones when the market picks up again.
  • Maintain employee engagement.
    It is important to set objectives in a clear direction. Also, make sure you keep your employees in the picture, even though there is only a little news. You can organise team-building days or give out employee awards.
  • Support the employees’ health and well-being.
    Recession times can have an impact on the psychological condition of the employees. Flexible working hours make it more comfortable to combine work and home lives. Besides, provide workplace support and health provision to prevent high levels of stress.


It is rather doubtful whether this list of – barely renewed – hints can help an employer to motivate his personnel. At least, it doesn’t hurt to try to give some hints.


Frauke De Graeve






Homophobia in sports? Not in Ghent

Filed under: internship, marketing communication, Ruth Broekaert — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:52 pm

City marketing is now booming. More and more cities are explicitly positioning themselves amongst their competitors by emphasizing their points of difference. An essential part of city marketing is to clearly state the city’s core values. Even before the city marketing boom, Ghent has always been known for its leading role among others Flemish cities in promoting equal opportunities and diversity. Now, they want to do even more and take it a step further.

That is why the city of Ghent has teamed up with the Holebi Federation to organize the very first Belgian ‘Holebi sportdag’, a sports day for bi-, homo- and heterosexuals. A lot of prominent people from in and around Ghent will be present to sign a charter against homophobia in sports. Why you ask? Of course because doing sports is fun for all! But this is also Ghent’s way of sharing its core values. This sports day is an ideal way to show everyone that there is no need for discrimination or homophobia in the macho world of sports, or anywhere else for that matter.

So sign up for one or more sports activities, from beach mix to highland games, or just come and cheer for the soccer match between the Pink Devils (a gay soccer team) and the soccer team of the Ghent police department. Queer or straight, don’t be square and be there at the Blaarmeersen on the 9th of march!

Ruth Broekaert

Print Media: The struggle for survival

Filed under: business communication, crisis communication, Vanessa Vanleene — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 11:31 am

The global financial crisis has made several new victims by pushing print media to the verge of extinction. These last couple of months, the already volatile sector of newspapers wearily noticed the erosion of circulation and advertising. The threat of heavy debt has forced several newspapers to file for bankruptcy or, in a final attempt to save themselves, to take extreme measures in cutting costs.


In December 2008, the Belgian publisher of several large Flemish newspapers, Corelio announced 60 layoffs. Luckily, by March 2009, the dismissals at De Morgen were limited to 15 instead of 26 employees. Corelio was also heavily criticised by the National Committee of Professional Photographers when the publisher stated they would no longer require the photographers’ services. To escape bankruptcy, Corelio’s journalists were now required to come up with their own photos for publication. The publisher is clearly giving it all in order to overcome the hardships of the economic crisis.


The question remains however whether there will be a future for print media at all. There are those who believe that the business model of newspapers is simply not up to par, especially when compared to the possibilities of the world wide web. Indeed, we are a generation who reads the news online, continuously updated all throughout the day. Maybe, the financial crisis is only pointing out the obvious, when the weakest companies have to close shop.



Vanessa Vanleene


“Gedrukt dagblad wordt een dinosaurus”, NRC Handelsblad, 12 December 2008, p. 15

The newest evolution in the gingerbread tradition: Belgian Ginger Bread

lalorAt the moment, a true gingerbread revival is taking place in Belgium and in The Netherlands. Both countries have had a long, much cherished tradition with gingerbread cookies or “speculaas”. The overwhelming success of the launch of gingerbread paste in 2008 however, caused the popularity of the gingerbread taste to reach unknown heights.

Following the cookies and the paste, La Lorraine, the largest Belgian-based producer and distributor of bakery and pastry products, has taken the next step in the evolution of gingerbread products: “Belgian Ginger Bread” (also known as “speculaasbrood”).

What is “Belgian Ginger Bread” exactly? Well, it’s a bread that already has gingerbread dough mixed into it. This way, consumers no longer have to make the effort to apply extra spread, they can immediately dig in!

To achieve this unique recipe, La Lorraine worked together with a traditional bakery from Hasselt. This bakery specialises in producing gingerbread cookies which assures the excellent ginger taste of the Belgian Ginger Bread.

This post probably already makes your mouth water! Well, then we’ll have to ask you to muster patience a little longer. The Belgian Ginger Bread will be available in supermarkets yearly from 15 October to 31 December.

(Vanessa Vanleene, Gerlinde Van Hauwermeiren, Liesbeth Van Den Mosselaer, Sander Laridon)


The ‘corporate affairs’ approach

Filed under: internship, Laura Moerman — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 9:40 am

Companies don’t stand alone. They’re interrelated with many different stakeholders: their employees, customers and shareholders, the media, authorities, their competitors and the political, social and academic world. To build up a good relationship with all of them, that’s no sinecure!

Whyte Corporate Affairs, a communications consultancy based in Brussels, provides its clients with communications advice, in support of their reputation, interests and business objectives. Clients can be both companies as institutions.


Whyte’s specific approach is to focus on that difficult relationship with various stakeholders. To realize good communication, the consultants often opt for an integrated application of different disciplines. Their so-called ‘corporate affairs’ approach consists of corporate communications, public affairs and crisis and issues management. Just the perfect blend to create a good reputation.

Starting from the end of this month till the end of May, I will work as an intern for Whyte Corporate Affairs. My job will partially consist of dealing with ongoing projects. By working on different projects for specific clients, I hope to discover the true nature of the ‘corporate affairs’ approach.

Laura Moerman

Filed under: crisis communication, Laura Moerman, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:58 am

“I really hate my boss. Working long hours, hardly any breaks, having the feeling it’s never good enough and all that for just a pittance.”
“This hotel fell short of our needs. The service is very bad and the hotel rooms are smaller than our doghouse.”

“I used to be a true fan of this brand. Now their products only disappoint me.”

You don’t have to search too long to find lamentations like these on the Internet. We all know websites like Tripadvisor, Booking and Amazon, where you can give and read ratings for products and services. Apparently, managers and executives of big companies didn’t find their way to these applications yet. As their customers and employees keep on venting their gall on the World Wide Web, companies just don’t react.

According to Leslie Gaines-Ross, expert in reputation management, companies urgently have to surrender to the Internet. Especially those that would like to keep their reputations clean, often underestimate the power of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. In other words: they miss out on a great opportunity by not using Web 2.0 applications. Most of the top executives still work in the Web 1.0 mode and only use the Internet as a traditional search engine. Without even knowing, the reputation of their company could be in danger.web201

Potential job applicants or customers that are in doubt for two products, can easily find online advice. Whether those comments are pertinent or not, doesn’t really matter. Truth, exaggeration or flagrant lie: all news travels fast.

Companies have to interfere to preserve their reputation. If not, they may have to take the painful consequences. Ask Glenn Tilton, former boss of the American United Airlines, whose dismissal was caused by a website voting for his redundancy, especially designed by the United Airlines employees. Protect yourself from disasters like these and use web 2.0. It’s the link to reputation management!

Laura Moerman

Abimo, where fantasy and reality meet

Filed under: Gerlinde Van Hauwermeiren, internship — Tags: , , , , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:57 am

abimo-logo1As a publishing house concentrating on books for children, Abimo Uitgeverij has two main interests. The first is to deliver educational material for teachers and parents. Abimo Uitgeverij in this respect exceeds the offers of average publishing houses: namely, it not only sells books, but also entire educational concepts. What can be understood by this exactly? Well, this particular service for instance includes what are called “techniek torens”, colourful towers which contain ready prepared courses for teachers, and which moreover include the materials needed to teach the classes. Other offers in this domain are “piramide” and “taaltrapeze.”


Of course, on the other hand Abimo Uitgeverij also publishes literary books for children. Contrary to what might be expected of such a young company, it has already been successful in attracting many renowned writers. Authors such as Dirk Bracke, Karel Verleyen, Maria Heylen, Marc De Bel, Guy Didelez and Patrick Bernauw have had books published by Abimo Uitgeverij.


During my internship at this company, I will get the chance to work on many challenging projects. I will not only be active in the area of external communication, but I will also help establish partnerships and promote new books, edit texts and translate books.



Gerlinde Van Hauwermeiren

April 9, 2009

NMBS finally to roll out the red carpet for its customers?

Filed under: crisis communication, Gerlinde Van Hauwermeiren — Tags: , , , , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 11:57 pm


nmbs1Have you ever been frustrated in travelling the Belgian railways because of delays, wrong information or sudden changes in timetables? Well, you’re certainly not the only one. This week it was announced that during the last year 5,518 complaints about the company’s train transport were taken down, a new record.


Unfortunately, problems with NMBS transport not only lie with its deficient services but also with its lack of effective communication. The company’s complaints person states that even internally the communication process is anything but flawless. Ticket inspectors themselves in many cases are not well enough informed, let alone they could ever distribute correct information to the customers.


You would think this news in itself puts the railway company in a sufficient amount of bad daylight, but even to these negative reports its representatives react in a deficient way. Instead of acknowledging that there is a problem, not to say problems, they only list a whole number of excuses. It is clearly high time for the NMBS to take action and realise that it needs to roll out the red carpet for its customers instead of scaring them off to other, more reliable, means of transport.




To express your dissatisfaction with the NMBS’s transport, visit


Gerlinde Van Hauwermeiren



“Spoorweg moet lat hoger leggen” by Peter Vandermeersch. De Standaard 8 April 2009, p. 2.

“Reiziger geeft spoorwegen slechte punten” by Tom Ysebaert. De Standaard 8 April 2009, p. 9.

“Recordaantal klachten bij NMBS”. Metro 8 April 2009, p. 1.$FILE/Druk_perron.JPG  (Photo platform)  (photo logo)

Red numbers for red wine

Filed under: business communication, crisis communication, Jana Mahieu — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 10:05 pm



As broke investors are reaching for the bottle in this difficult economic times, sarcastically this bottle is also getting more expensive. With many of the region’s small wine producers staring bankruptcy in the face, Bordeaux is facing a crisis. The Independent reports that at the international wine fair of Bordeaux it was announced that the prices of different kinds of wine are under pressure. Only the very top producers are immune from the financial turmoil.


The problem can be summed up in one word: greed. Retail prices for mature, drinkable Bordeaux were driven up in the 1990s by a boom in Asian and American demand. Even relatively young wines, were sold at four times what the chateau had originally charged. Now after several years of speculative inflation, the bubble in the prices of the finest red wines in the world may be about to burst. With no end of the economic crisis in sight, maybe investors and stock brokers will go for something stronger and cheaper. Bring on the Scotch!


(Jana Mahieu)

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Create a free website or blog at