SEATTLE — Porter Novelli has revamped its offering that preps clients on what to expect if journalists review their products.

Drawing on the methodology of well-known review sites, like CNET and PC Mag, Porter Novelli Labs simulates how these outlets evaluate products. Information gleaned could be used to guide product development or tailor a strategy that downplays identified vulnerabilities.

Matthew Ashworth, VP of tech for Porter’s Seattle office where the lab resides, says the agency appointed Kristin Fontanilla as Labs director and hired Will Tucker as technical manager earlier this year as part of an overall refresh of the offering.

“We’re set-up to be the first call for journalists if they experience any trouble with a product they’re reviewing,” Ashworth said, including being equipped for video trouble-shooting.

Its “sweet spot” is with consumer electronics, like smartphones, tablets, printers and accessories, boasting a 1.5 day turnaround on reviews. More complicated technology that requires a simulated environment, for instance antivirus software or enterprise deployments, is beyond its scope.   

Porter Novelli Labs first launched more than 10 years ago, but since then consumer-to-consumer reviews have rivaled professional ones for influence -- especially as many media outlets have scaled back or shuttered their own review labs.

“It’s harder to anticipate a consumer reaction the way we can do with the news media because we’ve built relationships with them and know their testing methodology,” Ashworth said. 

The lab is also used to benchmark various products to garner insights on competitive positioning. For instance the lab recently tested GoPro HERO3 and the Contour Plus 2 cameras (neither are clients) for market research.