Some tickets to a Bros reunion gig in return for a favourable article? £1,500 to do a straight rewrite of a press release? Or some "free" man perfume from Kaspersky called Eau d'Eugene. Just what would you accept as a gift bribe to do someone's corporate bidding?
OK – I'll 'fess up – Reg Towers was not invited to glory in some crap boyband-related nostalgia courtesy of an unimaginative tech vendor, and more's the pity, but we have had offers to tempt us to the dark side. And by dark side, we mean, nice, friendly, non-sarcastic, non-critical articles.
Suffice to say, none of the following dangled sweeteners resulted in any favorable coverage.
Vendors that shall remain unnamed – they paid the small ransom – previously inquired what our rates were to shoehorn their marketing material into our hallowed pages. They couldn't afford our rates, which we revealed here nearly 20 years ago. Perhaps those rates need updating.
On one occasion, a tech "personality" in the web-hosting community tried to convince one of our hacks not to write a story by offering free tickets to the Royal Variety Show for "you and your lovely wife". We didn't attend.
El Reg also previously took delivery of unsolicited cupcakes besmeared with a thick layer of solid water icing topped with corp-logo-festooned rice paper (it is but wafer-thin) from a certain storage firm. They then got their most junior PR flunky to ring us up afterwards, to ask in a trembling voice: "Did you get our cupcakes? And have you heard about our new ... (*Click*) Hello? Hello?"
Did we eat them? 'Course we did. Like dogs, from the floor, washed down with beers of completely unknown origin plastered with the label of a certain software firm. What? We're not snobs!
Then there was the time that some Vultures went drinking one Christmas and found themselves with journo pals at the Kaspersky Xmas drinks and came in the next day to discover Kaspersky branded socks and foul-smelling aftershave on their desk.
On a similar theme, McAfee was another security outfit that once flung "free" socks in our direction for something or other. And just this week, yet another security vendor used a sock-based incentive for anyone in the office willing to endure a fate worse than death: attending IP Expo in Manchester.
London Stock Exchange-listed Brit security biz Sophos was the guilty party here, but its silly attempt to fill out the trade show in northern England actually came with a catch: registering was no guarantee of receiving socks, it just meant you were entered into a sock lottery.
"There's only two more week [sic] to go until IP Expo Manchester 2018, Europe's number ONE Enterprise IT event, don’t forget to register for your FREE pass," stated the email from Sophos.
"We will also be giving away a pair of free Sophos socks to every 10th person that registers through our registration page."
The days of good-time publishing in tech have long gone. And that is fine with us. As long as we can feed our little birds, the Vultures at Reg Towers are happy.
But what is the best – or worst – bribe you've ever been offered? Answers in the comments section and we'll collate inspired suggestions to include in an updated rates page that, as was said, needs updating. ®