In short, yes. But first, let’s look at the three basic ways I work with products and companies (not work for companies):
1) Products that are already released and in the market: These products have already been released, and you’re interested in me doing a review on the product. This is pretty straight forward. A product sample is provided for a typical 45-60 day period, and then sent back upon completion. Note, there’s no specific guarantee that I’ll write a review, but usually I’ll tell you this up front if I don’t think it’s going to work out.
2) Unannounced products nearing announcement/release: This is the area I work most commonly in. These are typically products within 6-8 weeks of product announcement. A company can contact me and send me a product to test ahead of release. Usually these products are in beta form (device itself or software, or both). During this time, the product is under NDA and no public comments/posts are made from my perspective. I’m simply using it day to day like any other athlete, and providing my feedback thoughts on it. Typically, these products are timed to a known release date/time (embargo lift), and I normally aim to coordinate my review post to that date/time. Again, this is how I work with most major companies that you see reviews here on: Garmin, Timex, Polar, Magellan, CycleOps, etc… Note that I don’t act as a press release gateway. Meaning, if you want me to write about a product, I’ve gotta have hands-on time with it.
3) Long term product feedback (6-24 months prior to release): During this phase, I’m open to discussing a planned product with the company. Typically this is in the late white-boarding area, or the initial prototype area. I often act as a sounding board for ideas, rebounding them against what I know of the viewpoints of the millions who read this blog, and about the industry and competitive products (released products).
Normally, these are just conference calls, or coordinated meetings and industry events I attend (CES, Interbike, Eurobike, ANT+ Symposium). I don’t charge for my time (if I charged for my time, then I’d be taking money from the company, which means in my mind I couldn’t review their products due to bias).
Finally, I also can do these same meetings/calls with an entire product team onsite at the location of your choosing (usually your company HQ). You can show me your products and I’ll provide feedback. This is typically a day-long session. Again, I don’t charge for my time – but rather do it because it’s simply interesting to me. Often times, I might make a ‘behind the scenes’ style post about the company, but discussing the upcoming product pre-announcement.