Gospel for Asia, the mission organisation founded by KP Yohannan, hired a reputation management company to counterbalance negative stories appearing about it as a result of revelations by former staff, according to information received by blogger Warren Throckmorton.
In a post yesterday, Throckmorton revealed that GFA hired a company called Reputation Management Consultants (RMC), which created websites specifically in order to manipulate Google search results to make sure positive stories appeared further up search lists.
Seventy thousand dollars was set aside to pay for the service, though it is not clear that the whole amount was used. Former staff told Throckmorton that it was earmarked to pay RMC for seven months.
He posts links to RMC 'Innoculation Reports' from February and March. RMC says: "The overall focus of the Inoculation Campaign is to remove any negative information from the front page of search engines with new content that is consistently 'fresh' and stands the best chance of outranking current negative search engine listings." In its March report it says that it will "continue to strengthen created assets and promote existing positive material to overcome the negatives found on the first page for Gospel for Asia keyterms. This month we will also be purchasing some custom domains for the campaign."
Questions about GFAs financial and other practices began to air in June 2014 when a group of former staff members known as the GFA Diaspora contacted its board with criticisms.
It has said little publicly in response. However, its affairs are being reviewed by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, though it is not known when a report will be made public.
The latest revelations, about the amount GFA was prepared to put in to managing reputational damage from GFA Diaspora publicity, are bound to raise fresh questions about its priorities.