THE GOLD STANDARD AWARD FOR ISSUES MANAGEMENT AND CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS
The Winner: Manila Electric Company – Beating the Summer Heat
In 2015, the Philippines’ Department of Energy (DOE) issued warnings that the Luzon region, which includes the country’s economic hub, metropolitan Manila, would experience seven-week blackouts in the summer months because of a power supply shortfall.
Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the largest power distribution company in the Philippines and the utility that provided more than half of Luzon’s power demand, needed a programme to save its customers from blackouts and the related threat of higher bills.
The Philippine government needed an enabler to bring together players in the power industry, the private sector, media and homeowners to find a way round the power shortage. Meralco played that role, proactively seeking solutions to what was a national problem and earning support from power industry players to communicate its programmes.
The business community, anxious about the impact of the power supply deficiency, had to be motivated to unite with Meralco to ease the threat, while residential customers also needed information on measures to help. Meralco had to coordinate closely with media, requiring conduits for its initiatives among the multiple stakeholders.
Recognising that collaboration was vital, Meralco customised messages and programmes that empowered each stakeholder to step up and take an active role in mitigation measures.
For corporate business customers, Meralco fronted the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), prompting big establishments to voluntarily reduce their consumption during peak hours, with the option of running their own generator sets instead of drawing power from the Luzon grid. Power they didn’t use could be distributed to residential customers without generator sets.
To showcase the programme, Meralco came up with a regular advertorial listing the companies that had signed up, calling them heroes with the nation’s interests at heart.
For residential customers, Meralco brought in demand-side management programmes and household-level energy efficiency solutions. It launched the only appliance consumption testing facility in the country and recommended a list of simple steps to manage power use, involving common household appliances. This was publicised across all platforms, the most significant take-up coming on social media.
To share best practices and gather support from power industry players and the government, Meralco initiated speaking and partnership events with the DOE, the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives.
The worst was averted, and in the process Meralco recorded the highest customer satisfaction rating in its 113-year history.
The Award was presented by North Head Director Robert Magyar, pictured above right, to Meralco’s Joe Zaldarriaga at the gala reception in Hong Kong on December 1
About the sponsor:
North Head is honored to return this year as a sponsor of The Gold Standard Awards. North Head is an independent strategic communications and public affairs consultancy with a clear China and Asia focus. It specializes in partnering with either multinational companies operating in this dynamic but challenging market or supporting Chinese / Asian companies extending their reach globally.
North Head also works with trade associations, governments, and NGOs. The consultancy is focused on a research- and knowledge-based approach, providing landmark thinking and insights on integrating stakeholder relations and reputation management. North Head offers strong media and government relations in China, with an extension to major Asian cities.
The experienced team is led by senior PR and PA veterans, acknowledged as the best agency for issues and crisis management in 2011 and Consultancy of the Year in 2013 and 2015 by PublicAffairsAsia.