The difficult-to-place story saga has taken an uncomfortable twist.
Earlier today, I emailed the PR to keep her posted about my efforts to sell the story, explaining the problems I was having placing it and what I proposed to do. I've just had a response that makes me want to spit blood.
In short, the PR asked me which newspaper wanted the story but had no budget for it, how much I'd have expected to earn for it if there had been a budget and - get this - if I could find out if the section ed would take it for free because if so, the company would pay me instead.
I was so shocked, I was momentarily speechless. Then I let fly with a string of curses. And then I sent back a diplomatically tart response that I couldn't accept payment as it would compromise my neutrality. Not to mention my credibility. If I wanted to be paid by the company, I'd apply for a job with them.
This has left me wondering how common a practice this is among PRs and if any hacks have ever taken company money in such a situation.