How to harm your own reputation: the case of "Boryspil robber" Godunok

A crisis communication analysis used as a training case at the "How to hack the media space" workshop held on August 1, 2019, in the Kyiv School of Economics.

On July 10, 2019, during his visit to Boryspil, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has kicked a regional government official with a criminal record out of a meeting broadcast live on television.

"Get out of here, rogue! Are you not hearing me correctly?" Zelenskiy told Yaroslav Hodunok, a Boryspil city council secretary and parliamentary candidate, who is heard arguing with the president. "In English - exit," Zelenskiy added.

The expulsion, which was filmed and later published online by the Ukrayinska Pravda news site, was met with applause from other officials and meeting attendees.

This scene was instantly spread in media and became an example of reputational crisis for the Boryspil official, deepened by his chaotic communication.


Key messages of the parties to a conflict (number of contacts with the audience)
Key messages of the parties to a conflict  (number of contacts with the audience)

Factors that made this communication case crisis for the regional official, as well as predetermined the success of the new president:

- Good preparation of Zelensky's statements, and vice versa, bad improvisation of Godunok.

- High post-election media attention to Zelensky.

- Journalists lack of motivation to cover and cite the "other side of the conflict" - in this case, Godunok.

- A large number of Godunok opponents, who began to spread additional negative statements about him in social networks.

- The first unprecedented nervous reaction, which brought a high quotation, but set public opinion against him.

- Change of the key messages. "Reconciliation" communication, being voiced after aggressive words, looked inconsistent.

- A call to the ZIK TV channel studio when Godunok was unable to answer questions about past criminal records.

Like any such scandal involving local official, this situation will soon be forgotten, and most of the audience will not be able to recall the names of involved, or even the fact of the scandal itself. However, the updated information about the case will remain in the web and will be easly googled.

Downloading our full presentation, you will see how quickly the media have forgotten about the scandal, which medis have attracted the most attention, which audience has been most affected by it, and, of course, a detailed analysis of the communication failures of Yaroslav Godunok.

Download the full version in pdf