The relations between businesses and the media must be improved through frequent dialogues, delegates said at a media relations conference in HCM City on Jan. 19.

Nguyen Thanh Minh, editor-in-chief of Saigon Entrepreneur Newspaper, said the media was an increasingly important information channel for businesses, providing the latter with information about markets and Government policies.

Many newspapers had also worked closely with businesses in social activities, he said.

The media also reported on measures and provided information and insight that can help businesses overcome obstacles.

Minh said businesses needed the press to advertise their products and services, while the media needed businesses as subjects for articles and stories.

Speaking with reporters in an interview, Samuel Lock, managing director of Clarion Consultants, said the country had had adjustments in its policy when changing to a socialist-oriented market economy.

"Foreign businesses need to understand these changes, while journalists need to understand how businesses think, and what is important to them, particularly if they are from overseas background and different cultures."

The two sides should interact more and have open, honest discussions.

"That way, we can help each other develop trust and good relationship and know what I stand for as a businessman, and what you stand for as a journalist," he said.

"With that understanding, it is much easier for the two sides to move further for better dialogue, and to have better news coming out."

However, many delegates said some negative aspects still existed, with businesses complaining about incorrect reporting, causing loss in prestige for them.

Some journalists had even provided information to business rivals.

Businesspeople said they hesitated to talk to the press for fear that they would be misinterpreted, leading to damaging consequences for their companies.

Le Tan Hung, public relations manager of Vietnam Brewery Ltd, said consumers tended to contact the media first instead of companies or consumer complaint offices when they discovered problems in products or services.

In this case, the media should guide consumers to come to the right places to solve consumers' problems, he said.

Nguyen Van My, director of the Lua Viet Travel Company, said businesses and the media should intensify dialogue in each sector to help them understand each other better.

Phuc Tien, director of the Vietnam Hop Diem Company, suggested that members of the media held an "open house" every year for readers on the occasion of the paper's birthday to further communication with the public.

The assistant country manager of MediaBanc, Nguyen Thi My Hanh, said businesses should be open more to the media, even when they experienced problems.

Vo Van Long, deputy director of the HCM City's Department of Information and Communications, said businesses must ensure the quality of their products they advertise on TV to win trust from customers about the company and the television station.

Conference participants said the event was a necessary and constructive dialogue between the media and business. They expressed interest in continuing discussions at future events.

The country has nearly 700 print and electronic newspapers, with more than 17,000 journalists./.