Undermined reputation leads to monetary loss

Posted by Aleksandra Hristov on January 23rd, 2022 under Articles | No Comments »

In her her column in a reputable Serbian daily newspaper Danas, Sunday addition, Ms. Aleksandra Hristov wrote the following article:



Novak Djokovic has landed in Belgrade, Serbia after his deportation from Australia. He avoided the journalists as he decided not to speak publicly about this, for the time being. This is a good policy from his PR team, I would have given the same advice. Very noticeably, at the airport there was no official welcome from the Serbian state officials. We could assume that these have been already noticed from Novak about his planned public silence. The State welcome came down to the light show on the two tallest Belgrade buildings, the night before his arrival. In the situation of a wide Novak support from the Serbian public, this indicates the lackluster governmental response to this event.

It is hard to ignore the impression that at the latest SCDC (Serbian Center for Disease Control) press conference, its member Mr. Zoran Gojkovic has distanced himself from Novak. In response to Reuters and CNN questions about the Covid-19 certificate issued by the government institute for public health “Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut”, he answered that Mr. Djokovic had gotten the absolutely valid Covid-19 document with the positive result in the evening hours of December 16, 2021. And he added that any further inquiry should be directed to the recipient. Furthermore, he augmented his statement by saying that in Serbia there are no sanctions for those breaching the Covid-19 self-isolation rules (!?).

In addition to the convoluted decisions by the Australian government, and consequent wider harassment of Novak, the described “Coup de Grace” hitting Novak from the home turf is the biggest assault on his reputation. From Mr. Gojkovic statement we must conclude that Novak was Covid-19 positive, and he made public appearances while he most probably knew he is putting others in unnecessary danger. Mr. Djokovic apologized for his social mingling after he was infected, but only as consequence of his Covid-19 test leaking into public first. That means he reacted too late. To make matters worse, Novak is still not vaccinated, a very untenable stance for public figure in these times of fighting the dangerous virus.

All this is destined be more detrimental to his reputation than all the courts in any jurisdiction. Lacoste corporation, one of his largest sponsors with the 30 million dollars per year contract has just announced: “We would like to talk to Novak in the coming days to discuss the aftermath of his recent presence in Australia”. At the same time, France decided that all Roland Garros tennis tournament participants must be vaccinated. According to Australian press, as direct consequence of “Novak Djokovic” case, there is increase in number of spectators requesting the tournament tickets refund. It is estimated that these refunds may reach 25% mark. Therefore, both Australia and Novak are at loss. We are now waiting to see how these actors, Australia and Novak, navigate their damaged reputation management.


The “Firm” as the Brits colloquially call the royal family, masterfully manages the reputational risks and prevents the beginning of the reputational crisis. This is the current case of the Prince Andrew (61), the younger son of the British monarch.
The Queen Elizabeth II, for the sake of saving the monarchy “renounces” her own son. She decided to strip him of all the official public engagements duties, the royal and all the military titles, the state annual salary of 342,000 US dollars for the royal household working members. This is all in reference to civil law suit against him put in motion recently by the New York City judge that accuses HRH Andrew for involvement in sexual trafficking of Ms. Virginia Giuffre twenty years ago when she was a teenager. After this latest decision by the Queen, Mr. Andrew is going to have to defend himself as the common citizen.

The Royal biographers had already noticed that this son is commonly perceived as his mother’s favorite. However, the 95-year old monarch during her long reign has always insisted that the duty, office, honor, and preservation of monarchy are the highest priorities.
Obviously in sharp contrast to the Balkans, where the family members of the politicians and public figures are habitually defended in spite of their involvement in the scandals while being adults, the British monarch, irrespective of anyone liking her or not, does everything in her power to ensure the smooth continuity of her society and state. This is one of the elements why the Great Britain has been one of the most respected and powerful countries in the world for centuries.


Just a few days ago, after quite some time, the SCDC has re-emerged with its presumed own decisions about the pandemic. My well respected colleague is jocularly suggesting that we should start calling SCDC by the name of just “Desk” because of their loss of credibility and ability to influence the public opinion. The management of the pandemic crisis in Serbia became self-parody of what this process is supposed to be. We cannot even safely qualify this as the wrong communication in crisis, since there are intermittently semblances of some strategy attempts, however displaced. The problem is that it is finally clear that the “Desk” is lacking the true power, as it is micromanaged from elsewhere, similar to any other public and crisis communication, pertaining invariably to every governmental institution in Serbia.

The goal here is not to antagonize the majority of the voters, and of course, to gain the most votes in the coming general elections this Spring. The sincere communication and the honest approach to health issues are of secondary importance. This is going to come back for payment. In my opinion, for this kind of resolution we should not wait for long. It is likely that I would have a different prognosis if our Serbian government and the “Desk” went public, and like the Israel officials said: “Our aim is to allow mass infection of the entire society and therefore create the collective immunity”. That would be the correct approach towards own citizens. However, it did not go that way, the professional part of the “Desk” wants tougher measures, its political part is against this. In the meantime, the Serbian public is rapidly getting medically sicker by the day.

The days of my own isolation and healing from Corona-19 virus are going by, this is my second such infection since the pandemic beginning. My illness diagnosis was correctly guessed even before the test by my physician from the City Tuberculosis Hospital, one of the unsung female heroes of this global health calamity. She was able to estimate “Omicron” based just on my SMS list of symptoms. It was Omicron indeed, the quick-test done at the private laboratory finally confirmed. Although still feeling relatively feeble and recuperating, I nevertheless started seeking some answers to reasonably logical questions, the ones we were never able to get from the State and the “Desk”:

- Since I have tested at the private laboratory with the quick-test, is my positive result now part of the 13,693 number of officially infected on January 11, 2022? My colleague, the journalist who follows this subject says yes, I am not sure.
- Is my result now becoming part of the State count, necessary as the basis for renewing my green travel certificate? The same colleague says no!?
- Tomorrow, should I go to the state health field ambulance, wait there for couple of hours to be recorded by the official system, hoping both that I am still positive, and that I shall not infect anyone along the way?
This is evidently illogical and inhumane to the citizens of Serbia.
How is it possible that these private ambulances got the State accreditation, but that same State does not recognize them as relevant? Perhaps there is some higher interest, maybe charging of the tests kept in the closed circle between the manufacturers and the State?
What am I and my compatriots supposed to do?

After this, I cannot get for some time the third vaccine shot, and my green certificate shall expire soon so I shall inevitably enter the “grey zone” for traveling and moving around. This is also irresponsible from the State.

The physicians employed by the State are at the end of their line. They should be commended on their effort, courage, and patience, whereas as a private entrepreneur I do not mind paying them. Why the State does not recognize the results from the private sector that must be paid to obtain? For example, the necessary DDimer category of results is not offered by the State, those have to be obtained at the private establishments.

Concurrently, the chronically ill patients are unable to be serviced by the public health system. Most of their scheduled regular checkups are cancelled due to the overcrowding during the past two years. The patients with deeper pockets are going to private medical doctors. This leaves me, the member of the private business community, to regularly pay my obligatory health, pension expenses, and taxes in order to fill the public funds for all the citizens, and maintain the bloated government bureaucracy while forced to still pay the private medical checkups for my family. This is the classic case of senseless and inhumane treatment of the citizens.

Based on these examples, it is no wonder that we have every right to continue to refer to SCDC as the “Desk”. The management of the crisis situations by issuing the contradictory messages always produces the loss of integrity, reputation, and leads to diminishing of any meaningful influence.

Online Lecture “Crisis Communications”

Posted by Aleksandra Hristov on January 16th, 2022 under Events | No Comments »

Ms. Aleksandra Hristov, director of the consulting firm “Hristov Consulting”, certified for the strategic communications and education, held the online lecture “Crisis CommunicationS” at the invitation from the professor Ms. Milica Slijepcevic, Metropolitan University, Belgrade, Serbia.

The students have been introduced to the latest trends in strategic communications and crisis management, the field with the increasing importance for the public institutions, companies, and other organizations.

To review the whole lecture on Serbian language follow the link:

MET TALKS / MENADŽMENT WEBINAR – Krizne komunikacije

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