The chief executive of Cadbury Schweppes has warned businesses to be more open to public dialogue if they are to avoid a media backlash.
Speaking at the Institute of Directors' annual convention in London, Todd Stitzer said that "business bashing" had become popular with the media, which meant that firms had to be proactive in defending themselves. Stitzer drew on his firm's own experience of being targeted during the recent debate on child obesity to illustrate his point.
"When we first came under attack we were not communicative. Like a lot of companies in our position, we retreated," he told the audience at the Royal Albert Hall. "In this situation, many companies fear what people will say and what journalists will write. But what we have learned is that this escalates the problem. A lack of communication creates a vacuum that allows people to assume that, although they personally have a conscience, business doesn't."
Stitzer advised firms to follow a three-point plan to counter bad publicity: "We need to define and articulate the values of...