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Terrorist attacks in the US trigger wave of concern and support at Bertelsmann
Berlin (ots) -
Joint fund drive by Bertelsmann AG, Gruner + Jahr and RTL Group
generates overwhelming response - Spontaneous gestures of solidarity
throughout the company - BMG star Whitney Houston helps out with CD
The terrorist attacks of September 11 triggered dismay and a wave
of concern and support all over the world - including at Bertelsmann.
From central management to the individual companies, Bertelsmann
employees showed their solidarity with people in the US in a variety
of ways. Artists got involved as well: the BMG label Arista Records
and Whitney Houston spontaneously announced that they would
re-release her renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "America
the Beautiful" on a CD single, the proceeds of which will go to the
New York Police and Fire Departments relief funds.
Immediately after the attacks, Bertelsmann set up crisis
management teams in Gütersloh and New York, to pool information and
organize support. Chairman & CEO Thomas Middelhoff led the crisis
squad from Germany, while in New York, BMG Chairman & CEO Rolf
Schmidt-Holtz handled the measures during the dramatic first few
hours and days after the attacks.
By the morning of September 12, Bertelsmann had already pledged
one million USD each to the relief funds of the New York Fire and
Police Departments, to provide swift financial relief to the families
of the rescue workers killed. Shortly thereafter, Bertelsmann AG, the
newspaper and magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr, and the TV and radio
conglomerate RTL Group set up a joint solidarity and fund-raising
initiative under the heading "For Freedom and Compassion - against
Hate and Terrorism." A large-scale campaign of ads and TV spots
encouraged readers and viewers to share their thoughts, opinions and
feelings about the tragedy in the US on a dedicated website, and to
communicate with other people. The campaign also called for
donations. The response to the initiative, which was implemented in
Germany and France, exceeded all expectations. In the first two days
alone, more than 125,000 EUR were received to the donations account.
By now, more than 500,000 EUR have been received. The money will be
used to aid the children of victims of terrorism; among other things,
a scholarship fund will be set up. In just three days, the ad
broadcast on RTL Group TV channels reached more than 35 million
viewers, while the ads in newspapers and magazines were read by a
quarter of the population in Germany alone. After just a few days,
the www.terroropfer-usa.de website had registered 8,000
Inside Bertelsmann, attention was focused on the employees in New
York. Thomas Middelhoff wrote several e-mails to all employees
worldwide and specifically to colleagues in the U.S. In response, he
received a great number of letters expressing solidarity, reporting
on personal experiences, and offering to help. BMG employees in Chile
offered blood, Random House employees in Canada spontaneously offered
to help with the rescue operations in New York. Employees at the MOHN
Media printing operations in Berlin donated money originally
earmarked for a staff party to the fund drive. Over the past few
days, employees all over the world have downloaded a form from
Bertelsmann's intranet BeNet to donate part of their salaries. In New
York, numerous employees participated in an organized blood drive. In
Berlin, the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben, an organization sponsored
by Bertelsmann AG, joined the Atlantik- Brücke Association and the
Bundesjugendorchester in a charity concert, the proceeds of which
will be donated to children orphaned by the terrorist attacks.
Thomas Middelhoff himself traveled to New York aboard one of the
first aircraft allowed to cross the Atlantic, to find out about the
situation first-hand and to see how employees were doing. "These
atrocious events have sent a shock through our company," reported
Middelhoff on Thursday at the company's annual news conference in
Berlin. "There is an enormous amount of involvement and concern.
Everyone I have spoken to during these dreadful days has expressed a
new, heightened sense of solidarity."
Bertelsmann employs approximately 18,000 people in the US,
including 9,000 in New York. Five thousand of them work in the
company's building on Times Square. None of the employees came to
physical harm; the company's buildings sustained no damage. A group
of experts has been deployed to help traumatized employees cope with
the disastrous events.
ots Originaltext: Bertelsmann AG
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