Meralco’s PR man advocates consumer empowerment

Joe Zaldarriaga feels at home with the media.

As vice president-corporate communications head at Meralco, he presides over video advisories, press conferences and interviews regularly. He appears on Meralco power-saving tips TV commercials.

The affable, easygoing executive was himself a former broadcast journalist, having been a news reporter and evening desk editor at ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs.

“Communication has been my life and this is what I love doing. Since I was little, I knew this was the path I was going to take, he said in a recent interview on Daily Tribune’s online show Gising Na.

‘I take my role as a communicator very seriously,’ says Meralco’s Joe Zaldarriaga.

He’s likewise the chairman of the International Association of Business Communicators Philippines, a chapter of the world’s biggest business communications organization.

“I take my role as a communicator very seriously,” he said.

AIABC is a professional network of 11,000 business communication professionals in over 70 countries.

IABC Philippines is its first chapter outside the United States. Its mission is to share among its members the best global communication practices, ideas and experiences to develop ethical and effective performance standards for their profession.

Photograph courtesy of Joe Zaldarriaga
La Salle boy Zaldarriaga attended DLSU from elementary to college, and used to model for some local brands.

A graduate of Asian Studies at La Salle, where he also attended grade school and high school, Zaldarriaga said he is advocating for empowerment among electricity consumers.

It’s not enough for consumers to expect Meralco to provide reliable and uninterrupted services, he said, pointing out the people should also wield power and influence in the industry.

In fact, this is already happening, since most Filipinos have been asserting their rights as customers online and in person.

Zaldarriaga said Meralco — a 119-year-old publicly listed company — keeps track of customer reviews and comments which are promptly attended to.

“In the power industry, there is a constant effort to provide valuable information to the public. One of our flagship programs is the Meralco advisory, which informs the public about changes in power rates and other concerns to help them make intelligent decisions,” Zaldarriaga said.

“Empower them so they can manage their consumption. The second part of that campaign is to provide information on energy efficiency among others. I think we are the only utility company which pioneered this kind of campaign,” he added.

Meralco is the largest private sector electric distribution utility company in the Philippines, covering 36 cities and 75 municipalities. Its franchise area of over 9,685 km2 is just 3 percent of the total land area of the Philippines, but accounts for 55 percent of the country’s electricity output.

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