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MARK 332: Promotion

Overview of the many ways in which goods, services, and ideas can be promoted to consumers and businesses through advertising, public relations, and publicity.

Consumer & Market Resources

Researching Private Companies

Researching private companies is more challenging since they are usually not required to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Therefore:

  • You usually will not find financial reports on private companies.
  • You may need to accept a revenue range or estimate, company ranking by revenue, or even inferred revenue based on information known or presumed.
  • There is usually less published about smaller companies than larger companies.

Ask Questions:

  1. Determine what you really need to know. What questions do you need answered?
  2. Consider which sources are most likely to have the information you need.  For example, Is there an association, government agency or think tank that focuses on the industry?
  3. What you already know about the company/industry willl help you decide where to look for information (e.g., Does it have patents, emit pollutants, make consumer products, is it in a regulated industry?). 

Other Strategies for Researching Small/Private Companies

Does the company have any trademarks or patents? This is public information.

Has the company made an Initial Public Offering (IPO)? If so, you can find information on these companies.

Tax returns are available to the public for non-profit organizations (Form 990). Contact the regional IRS office of the company's location.

Consider contacting special interest groups that relate to your industry such as industry focused Political Action Committees (PACs) which promote a specific industry, as well as watchdogs that monitor adversaries.

Government Sources: Federal, State, and Local

The federal government regulates and investigates various company activities. Some of this data is available to the public. Examples: 

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (e.g., square footage of a plant, number of employees in the plant, types of machines used, etc., may be given from an investigation)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (e.g., plant inspection reports, filings for permits)
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (has files on some products, firms and recalls).

You can use the U.S. Government Manual to locate agency contact information (use link below).

More strategies to locate information on private companies:

  • The state's office of economic development tries to keep companies in state happy and to attract companies to the state (e.g., Dept of Community, Trade and Economic Development in Olympia). They are knowledgeable about in state companies and may be able to give infosuch as construction or expansion plans, major employment changes, operation or production process. Public information varies in different states. They may also be able to suggest a contact inside or outside the company.
  • Companies must file various data in the state they are registered or incorporated, and where they are headquartered and in each state they operate. Try the state's home page to find out what information they give access to such as company filings or industry information.
  • The Office of the Secretary of State is where companies usually register and provide information about their operations such as articles of incorporation, a type of annual report, corporate name changes, location of operations, etc. Information available will vary in each state. Use the link below for the Washington Secretary of State.
  • Look for local government reports. Municipal and County governments keep track of what companies do in their area. Examples are tax assessors, pollution control boards, county clerk which has records of property owned.

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