|Title||UNCOVER THE TRUTH|
|Brand||TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL SRI LANKA|
|Product / Service||THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT|
|Category||B02. Public Affairs & Lobbying|
|Entrant||OGILVY PUBLIC RELATIONS WORLDWIDE Colombo, SRI LANKA|
|Idea Creation||OGILVY PUBLIC RELATIONS WORLDWIDE Colombo, SRI LANKA|
|Media Placement||ASSET RADIO BROADCASTING (PVT) LTD Colombo, SRI LANKA|
|PR||OGILVY PUBLIC RELATIONS WORLDWIDE Colombo, SRI LANKA|
|Production||OGILVY PUBLIC RELATIONS WORLDWIDE Colombo, SRI LANKA|
|Manilka Philips||Ogilvy Public Relations||Chief Executive Officer|
|Althaf Jalaldeen||Ogilvy Public Relations||Assistant General Manager|
|Lasantha David||Ogilvy Public Relations||Senior Copywriter|
|Gayan Satharasinghe||Ogilvy Public Relations||Account Executive|
|Janaka Dilan||Ogilvy Public Relations||Art Director|
|Dilan Balasuriya||Ogilvy Public Relations||Social Media Manager|
|Chandimal Wanasuriya||Ogilvy Public Relations||Content Designer|
|Nilupa Sanjaya||Asset Radio Broadcasting||Senior Manager - Digital Media|
|Asanga Jayasooriya||Asset Radio Broadcasting||Chief Executive Officer|
Sensationalist media stories and controversial posts get the most views and shares in Sri Lanka. Citizens actively search for information when they feel important details are omitted. We recognised that controversy ignites curiosity and the realisation of past information censorship can fuel a desire to uncover more. Our idea was to use deliberately-censored controversial news pieces to show the public that despite not being shown the full picture by media, they now hold the power to ‘Uncover the Truth’ using the RTI. We based our content on topical social issues at the time, i.e. inadequate medicine allocations in state hospitals and the misappropriation of infrastructure development funds etc. The most important information in each story was censored and at the end of each piece of content, the public were prompted to visit the RTI website and hotline, two platforms owned by TISL, to know more.
The RTI Act was passed in parliament in August 2016 and would be available for public use from 4th February 2017 onward. The campaign’s first phase began in November with our content being inserted into editorial sections of the Lankadeepa newspaper. This was in addition to the press conferences and releases being done by TISL. Our radio and online component ran for a week from the day the Act was launched. Further on radio, we arranged for a TISL spokesperson to be interviewed on the most popular radio talk show to discuss the value of the RTI and enabled listeners to call into the program and ask RTI questions live on-air.
The campaign had a cumulative reach of 6.8 million people and achieved 300% of RTI monthly request target in just one week. Google searches for the RTI rose by 901% for the campaign period, compared to the 16 months prior between the Bill becoming an Act. The RTI hotline received 957 calls from December 2016 to April 2017 and web traffic on RTIwatch.lk rose by 271% month-on-month, increasing from 2877 web views in January 2017 to 7814 in February 2017. The content we embedded online reached 400,456 people, receiving 712 engagements in the form of likes, comments and shares at the end of the one-week online campaign. The country saw a massive influx of RTI applications from ordinary citizens and media organizations to activists and even politicians. Over 300 requests were filed the first day. Within ten days, over 1,500 requests were filed achieving 300% of the campaign target set for the first month. All three influential media began using the Act and reported on it, and even called out the inefficiency of public bodies in complying with the RTI requests submitted. The campaign itself received special mentions by media and was featured as an effective communication campaign by several media organizations. Two months after the launch of the Act, over 100 requests-a-day are filed and people across country are uncovering long buried answers, on different issues from justice for slain relatives to missing persons to land allocations to public funds misappropriation and much more.
After 22 years in waiting, Sri Lanka would finally become the penultimate country in South Asia to have a Right to Information Act. Though people wanted access to information, they didn’t know of the Act or if such a thing was possible. Mass education was necessary but with a low budget, ‘Uncover the Truth’ turned to strategic PR to reach the masses and ensure the RTI Act was a success, within just a week of its launch.
We realised that straightforward PR wouldn’t have the impact we needed, so we partnered with Sri Lanka’s leading Sinhala (local language) radio station, newspaper and alternate news site, to maximise the budget. To show the impact of RTI in action, we engaged senior news editors and journalists at three influential media organisations to formally request public offices to disclose information. The application of the RTI by leading media organizations was intended to promote the value of the Act among the public.