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Advertising and Society: ADV 3002

Research help for the course, ADV 3002: Advertising and Society.

Research Specific Companies & Industries

Research Private Companies

Research on private companies (particularly small private companies) can be challenging, since private companies are not required to make available the same information required of public companies. It is often necessary to search in a number of different sources for any available information, including the company's website and local/regional news sources.

If, after searching in the databases listed in the box on the left, you are unable to locate any information about your private company, try the following databases.

Company Research Tips

The type and amount of information you will find on a company depends upon several factors.  Before you begin your research, ask yourself these questions:

1.  Are there variations of the company name?
Different research resources may use alternative spellings or abbreviations of a company name.  Some databases require a ticker symbol to find company information.

2.  Is the company public or private?
It is usually easier to find information on public companies. Try these tips for finding and using information on private companies:

  • Look for directory listings, company profiles, and news articles using the databases listed in the box on the left.
  • Try to find local news coverage in the areas where the company's headquarters or other facilities are located. 
  • Financials for private companies are often reported as "estimates."  The figures may be outdated by a year or more.  Use with discretion, and always cite your source.
  • Check the Internet.  Many private companies have websites with useful information.

3.  What about the company's "family tree"?
Is it a parent company?  Division of another?  Foreign-owned?  Family-owned?  

4.  Is the company newsworthy?
Companies tend to be in the news when they want the PR, when they are performing extremely well, or when they are having problems.  Even a small private company may be considered newsworthy by local press.

- Content adapted from Butler University Libraries 'Company Research' guide.