With the economy in its current straits many people are finding this year unexpectedly hard, and Christmas cheer distinctly lacking.
Following an item on TV news about another Salvation Army food bank, Lynn decided to see what was operating locally and found that Preston’s SA has been running a major Food Bank initiative from their Harrington Street base.
Over our morning Chase List (where we review current projects to make sure we’re looking after all our lovely clients), she casually suggested to the team that it would be very nice to bring in a can of something for the bank.
Next morning we almost couldn’t see our office Christmas tree… the whole team had been out and bought extra packs of all sorts, we had cans, biscuits, baby food, cereal, tea and coffee, mince pies, pasta, sweets, even a couple of toys… we were able to fill 4 BIG boxes to haul over to the Bank the next day. FANTASTIC! What a BRILLIANT team!
BUT – we weren’t done! We share the building with HP, and mentioned to the lovely Sue there what we were up to. A couple of days later she turned up dragging a heavily-laden paper trolley with more stuff – a huge box of goodies that HP’s people had pulled together, and a massive bag of toy building blocks. So this morning it was back down to the Salvation Army…
The experience really made everyone’s Christmas here – it’s good to think we’ve made a difference to some lives. On which note – Merry Christmas everybody! And here’s our Christmas Card to you, cleverly built from our logo by Angela…
Winter’s definitely here, heavy frost and that metallic note in the air… so it was a beautiful day for a winter walk to work! Clear, crisp, very very cold, through the trees and park and up into town. Definitely needed big coats on, there are few places as cold as by a river in winter.
Here’s Lynn on the Old Tramway trail from home to the park…
You can download a PDF on The Old Tramway here
And we saw a treecreeper again! He saw so cute I photographed him – yes, it really was THAT cold…
Couldn’t resist the river in the cold morning light, there’s a kind of magic to that low winter sun…
But, time to get back to work. Just wanted to share that with you – working out in t’sticks oop north does, as you see, have many benefits!
So get out and enjoy winter, wherever you are. Who says business blogs must be boring old business?
We just published this article on Open2Export, the new service supporting SMEs in exporting.
We all know it’s SO important to have web presence these days, and if your SEO guys know their stuff it’ll ensure you real visibility.
BUT, there’s a caveat – it DOES want to be visibility of something GOOD. Crass, obviously “translated” text is a real turn-off and WILL lose you business.
“But surely as long as it’s close enough it doesn’t really matter?”
We’ve been translating for a German gas industry leader for over 7 years, and while researching a big project for them this morning I found myself on the “English” website of another German industrial giant. I was so moved by the appalling translation, I actually wrote to their Contacts page to point out some of the grossest bits – this MUST be losing them credibility, and with lost credibility goes lost sales… am I right?
The company concerned would like to sell in the UK – but having seen the poor quality of their website I’d now really question the quality of the product – and I certainly won’t be the only guy thinking: “If they can’t be bothered to look after their own global shop window, how can I trust them to look after me?”. It’s high-end expensive engineered product too – just one lost sale would have PAID for that proper translation…
All the SEO in the world won’t compensate for laugh-making website translation, and what’s worse is that it can negate ALL the other money you’ve spent on promotion in that market as well.
And that marketing campaign may have cost tens of thousands – so PLEASE don’t screw it up by scrimping on getting your own “shop window” translated PROPERLY. It’s really not expensive – a typical 10-page SME website from a reputable provider may be as little as a few hundred pounds. Of course you’ll want to get several quotes – but please remember cheap language is cheap for a reason. Remember too the MoJ’s translation experiences…
It’s worth adding that while the Brits are generally forgiving – within reason – of clumsy language, most European managers are far less so. They’ll expect a professional website for a professional product – and will assume the reverse to be just as true. You may make the best widget in the world, but if the website translation makes it a laughing stock, you’re still screwed.
There’s more useful info on our own website translation page – and if you’re considering getting some translation done, there’s also a friendly helpful downloadable Guide on there on how you can help yourself get the best product – whichever provider you choose.
I’ll close with a recent “emergency rescue” website re-write we did a few months ago for a client who – luckily for them – found us on Google just in time. A UK SME had a product they’d told the French media about, and the French media loved it. Loved it so much, they did an editorial in Le Monde about it promoting the soon-to-launch French website!
4 days before the editorial was due to hit the street the client had that existing French website translation checked – and yes, it was awful. And I mean, really, REALLY bad. A brief panicky Google later they’d found us and we’d started the re-write, which went live about 1 hour before Le Monde hit the street. Now THAT really was just-in-time…
… a lot of companies just make it seem that way. Invited to our Chamber of Commerce‘s export workshop this morning to offer some export tips from the language side on translation of marketing, websites, product documentation and stuff. Great discussion – UKTI were there along with various business guys. If you’re looking to export you obviously need a good translation service (hi!) but there’s much more to it than that.
Here’s just a few key points we made from a language perspective for exporters – you may find them useful if you’re looking to export yourself.
- Consider the culture, not just as it is but as it could soon be. Increasingly clients are finding for example that the export packaging they had before is now inadequate – as just one example, tighter religious agendas in some Arab Spring cultures are demanding more detail on food packaging - and one client is having to spend a lot on having new packs designed and translated.
- Think end-to-end. In our (22 years) experience, there’s really two kinds of exporters – those who understand the question (usually the successful ones) and those who don’t. Exporting is a big process and needs joined-up thinking and action – get it right and it all works, get it wrong and you’ll be into years of mediocre performance and low returns.
The WRONG way is to get export translation done piecemeal – a bit by this agency, a bit by that one, some by the brochure designers, some by your in-country distributor, and a bit by the French work experience girl. It’s a really bad idea because you’ll have huge inconsistencies in style and terminology, and probably errors too – few English people write good English, so why expect your distributor or work experience girl to write good French? There’s a reason your marketing guys use pro copywriters.
The RIGHT way is to find a good translation partner and stick with them. In our experience it’s best to handle this yourself – if you delegate to your designer or publisher you run the risk they’ll opt for the cheapest provider, or a friend of a friend, neither of which will work well for you… If you choose and stick with the right translation provider for your export work, they’ll become familiar with your product, brand, style and preferences and ensure translators are briefed accordingly. They’ll help you localize and create and maintain a glossary and stylesheet of your terminology and key phrases (and their translations) and will probably use CAT tools to save you money by leveraging past work. Most importantly, you’ll get ongoing joined-up translation that works well for your product in that market, written by professional linguists (so the language will be accurate and well-crafted) and reviewed by their own review team (we have 7 in-house, covering French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese). Updates and amendments will be easy and cheap, and dovetail seamlessly into what went before. And because the same expertise will be in play for your brochures, packaging, manuals, documentation, advertising and more, your product range will be perceived in-country as joined-up and high-quality, and export will simply work.
Really capable providers will also be able to provide in-country interpreting support (briefed to the same high standard) and end-to-end multimedia localisation via voiceover or subtitling – we do both.
- Get the English right first! Translation’s expensive, but a fraction of the cost of a full export campaign. Pivotal to success is the quality of your source English material – is it smart, crisp, unambiguous and easy to read? Because if it isn’t, it will probably be much worse once translated – and fuzzy, bloated, verbose literature’s a real turn-off that WILL damage your export success. It’s really, really worth taking the time to ensure the English you’re going to get translated is spot-on if the translation is to yield the export benefit you want, so we’d always recommend this as a first step. And if we don’t feel the English is good enough to work, we’ll say so – we can re-write for you, recommend a copywriter, or advise you on what improvement is needed. We do this because we want you to succeed – we’re looking for long-term partnership, not just to translate whatever you give us to make money short-term. There’s also a downloadable guide to getting better translation on our Translation page which has some pointers on what you can do yourself to ensure a better translation result.
Hope you found this useful – it’s really just scratching the surface of how and why translation matters in exporting, but at the end of the day it’s just common sense – unfortunately however, as a wise man once remarked, “common sense – isn’t”. One reason why so many exporters achieve so much less than they had hoped.
You may have seen from last Spring’s posts that we can actually walk in to our offices in Preston – it’s super, through a nature reserve and then through a magnificent Preston city park, built by the Victorians and really well looked after (there’s a lot of improvement work being done as well). Pics from Spring though were a bit grey (as was Spring itself) so, HERE are a couple of gorgeous Summer images over the river taken from the Old Tramway bridge during our walk in on Friday… the white lumps are swans, yes – and one through the superb Avenham Park the same morning:
There’s more about Avenham Park (and Miller Park, its neighbour) here. The river is the Ribble – the sea’s not far away but at this point it’s quite shallow (usually). A bit further up it deepens, and there’s a marina in Preston itself (was a commercial harbour at one time as well).
On the walk back in the evening we watched a nuthatch scavenging insects out of nooks in the bark, no more than 6 feet away – he was just SO cute!!
Certainly beats sitting in the car on Fishergate Hill for half an hour… and if you have a longer commute than that, don’t you just HATE us?
As they say, it’s grim up North…
Missed updating last week, sorry! Anyway, THIS week we’re having lots of fun…
- Rescued a (very embarrassed) new client’s website – they’d machine-translated it via the web, launched it in country, and had terrible feedback (surprise!) just DAYS before a national newspaper published their advertorial. We had only 3 days to re-translate the pages into proper French before stuff hit the fan for them – we did of course, and a happy client tells us they’re now swamped in enquiries!
- Delivered lovely big Health & Safety project – 80000 words in 3 languages in 6 weeks for a global blue-chip
- Biscuits galore, with 8 new projects landing in the last week – busy generally on Food & Drink translation (including lots of typesetting) at the moment
- Hospital and legal interpreting all over the place (of course) – Urdu, Cantonese, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Bengali, Lithuanian and Gujarati (and that’s just today!)
- 13000 word proof reading project for an online portal in 5 languages
- Finishing transcription of a 5-day international conference in Finland – just in time for a 3-day one to land!
And updated our main webpages for Google’s new +1 widget – look forward to seeing the effects of that! We’ll shortly be firing up our web Guestbooks too – we’ll post and tweet when these are live of course
That’s far from everything, but probably enough for now – should post another update next week!
Our MD Lynn Everson attended the National Conference of Business and Professional Women (BPW) in Chester. A huge BPW fan, she writes about the organisation and what it’s done for her and for others
“Look – attack things with your eyes. See them fiercely. Hear everything. Ignore nothing.”
Terrence McNally, “A perfect Ganesh” (quote collected in April 1999)
One of the best rules for living by I’ve ever encountered, this ethos seems central to Spanish telephone etiquette with a caller opening the conversation “Oigame” (“Pin your ears back!”) to which the recipient meekly responds “Dígame” (“Let me have it!”).
A friend of mine – an international trucker – once told me the same while hauling 20 tonnes of onions back from Spain “Don’t miss anything! Whatever you’re doing, keep your eyes open and ears pricked – your next BIG opportunity could be just around the corner!” Ever since, I’ve collected quotes like these and tried to live by them – and I’m baffled how anyone can fall asleep on buses or trains, there’s always so much new stuff out there to learn!
We all have unmissable dates we book into our calendar every year. For me, the national BPW Conference (www.bpwuk.co.uk) is one and I’m just back from this year’s event at the Hilton Doubletree in Chester. Business & Professional Women is a fantastic international organisation (www.bpw-international.org) – I’ve been a member since 1989, and it’s given me enormous support in both my business and my personal development.
When I lost my job the same year, members who barely knew me would take me to club meetings, helping me rebuild my shattered self-esteem. Guest speakers inspired us, describing how they built their successful companies, and BPW also trained us on public speaking and hosting formal dinners for hundreds of guests and local dignitaries – I did both, including hosting a Single Europe Event and several black tie dinners (very good for your confidence!). BPW essentially convinced me that I really could make my dream happen, and I started Lifeline as a telephone interpreting service for truck drivers the following year. We featured in the local and national press and I travelled the UK building a client base and speaking at BPW events.
Meanwhile, BPW generously awarded me 2 sets of funding: the MacLaren Award to attend European Conference in Vienna, and the International Award to return to Spain to develop my undergraduate dissertation research into the consequences of women joining the ranks of the Civil Guard and National Police (which was revolutionary back then – under General Franco women had to ask their husbands’ permission to travel out of their home area). Partly thanks to BPW’s assistance I’ve retained this lifelong interest in the interface between police and public, which went on to form the theme of my dissertation for my Masters degree in Translation, graduating from the University of Bristol in 2010.
As well as the intensive networking and mentoring at BPW, the organization’s international dimension means we learn a great deal about the status and roles of women around the world, and the fantastic part BPW plays in global affairs (which includes Consultative Status at the UN and CSW). As importantly to members, we also have a great deal of fun – this year’s event was no exception!
BPW represents a tremendous force for good worldwide – with no political, denominational or other bias and members drawn from most communities on earth, BPW really does succeed in drawing together the will of its members for positive change. It’s done a lot for me personally and for many women I know – so if you’re a professional woman, anywhere and any age, reading this (or you know some) and are looking for something that will help you to develop yourself AND help women worldwide to access opportunities they may otherwise never see, why not look for your local BPW group and give it a go? Here’s a great place to start: www.bpwuk.co.uk
I’ll close with a few snippets from conference:
- 12.5% of board members in UK FTSE companies are women (but it’s 32% in Norway…)
- There are only 4 centres in the UK for male rape victims (as against 38 for women).
- People find Community Support Officers a reassuring presence on the streets (there’s that police fascination again!).
- Leymah Gbowee from Liberia was one of 3 Nobel Peace Prizewinners in 2011
But the most important piece of advice…
- You have to store hats upside down in their boxes (or else the rims go soft!)
Welcome to our first weekly update! We’ve tried to tweet the major stuff before – and partially succeeded – but now there’s just waaaay toooooo much happening and you can’t say a lot with 140 characters. So instead, every week or so we’ll try to blog a round-up of stuff we’re doing that may be of interest and tweet THAT instead – but we’ll still be tweeting other good bits so don’t stop watching.
So THIS week we have…
- Halfway through a massive Health & Safety project in Polish, German and Spanish
- Medical interpreting in Polish, Romanian, Italian, Czech, German amd Urdu among others
- Filtering out the bugs in 30,000 words of Spanish water treatment
- Helping an expat with a flooded property in France
- Various legal & insurance interpreting
- Superbly technical German-English translation for an Austrian partner – material science for carbon fibre structures. Cool!
- More food + hazchem translations than we’ve space for here – including lots of multilingual typesetting
- Trying to track down an elusive Chinese dialect for a client – there’s 286 languages in use in China so it’s not easy!
- Another week’s interpreting on-site in France for a training course
… and more. Plus, this week we’re at the UK National Conference of Business & Professional Women – this is a leading international women’s organisation, with Consultative Status at the UN. This year the event’s in Chester, and BPW NW region are proud to host this excellent networking forum. This follows their International Conference held in Helsinki.
But, busy = good!
Back next week with more… if we get time!
You don’t often see an MD on camera like this – here’s ours, Lynn Everson MA (Dist). As well as holding exceptional language qualifications (she’s a full Member of BOTH the Institute of Translation and Interpreting AND a full Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists – you really don’t find many linguists this qualified!), she’s also a fully-qualified International Transport Manager holding a full International CPC – she spent several years bouncing trucks around Europe before setting up Lifeline. You can read all about us here!
You don’t find many like her – here she’s talking about who we are and what we do, why we really ARE the USER-FRIENDLY language company, and why we really are different.
If you’ve got pop-ups blocked by the way you may need to override them – usually you just need to hold down Ctrl when you click the link.
Lifeline’s a member of the High Growth Foundation, who were good enough to handle the video side for us – they’re great people, and you can learn much more about HGF here.
And HERE’S the video – enjoy! It’s high-res so best watched full-screen, just click the “four corner box” thingy at bottom-right of the video window.
… you must be doing something right! These words from classic series The West Wing are apt today as we’ve experienced attempted sabotage and other stuff in recent days.
Sabotage in the form of a rather unsubtle hospital interpreting “plant” from another language supplier who got one of their stooges at a medical appointment to complain about the interpreter the hospital supplied – one of ours, and a very good one – then demand that “another language supplier” provide the interpreter for her next appointment. Fortunately the hospital manager handling the case knew all about “another language supplier” – whose interpreters she’d previously barred due to ongoing problems – so she checked with the consultant who confirmed the excellent quality of our guy’s work and was in fact most complimentary. Can’t mention names – obviously – but have to say that in our experience the manager concerned totally rocks in her attention to all her service users, whether patients or hospital staff.
Other stuff – don’t want to elaborate at this stage as we’re still investigating, but it looks like we’re managing to make someone unhappy with our still being here – although after 22 years, you’d think they’d be used to it! 2 goes in 2 days? Do YOU believe in coincidence?
Amazing the lengths some competitors will go to. If they’re reading this, they know who they are – and so do we.
So, they’re shooting at us – which reinforces what we already know, we ARE doing something right – just ask any of our happy customers or suppliers!