How To Do Company Research
"The Earth is not dying it is being killed. And those who
are killing it have names and addresses." - Utah Phillips.
Most of this was nicked from Corporate Watch apparently - see
for a more comprehensive guide including details on how to get
lists of major company shareholders.
Important: check with other activist groups in case they've already
done the work!! Start with the company's annual report-they will
send it to you if you ask them nicely. If a non-PLC, look up the
relevant business directories for structure, try Who Owns Whom
for production info, try Kompass vol 1, market research guides
and industry reports. Always note your sources to insure against
As well as the business section, check out reference-look for
Who's Who, the Directory of Associations and Professional Bodies,
trade journals (e.g. Mining Journal, The Engineer), and local
history books. If you can get into London, visit the City Business
Library, Westminster Reference Library, or the British Library
Business Info Service. Alternatively, get to your university library.
For leads and contacts, join an activist listserver, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
top info sites: www.essential.org,
NEWSPAPERS, NEWSLETTERS ETC
Financial Times, Investor's Chronicle. Private Eye is good for
leads but quoting is a libel risk! Find internal newsletters (e.g
BP Today) for recent contract awards, new offices etc. careers
offices sometimes have them. Look in Business Surveys' "Research
Index", which covers most publications.
WHO ARE THEY?
Find the red postal address directories in the library for locations,
or MacMillan's Key British Enterprises. Companies House (in many
city centres) will get you home addresses for £1, or a full company
search for £3.50 (tel 01222 380 30) but you may be asked
for a name and ID.
WHO KNOWS WHO?
The annual report must declare any donations of over £200; for
more call the Labour Research Dept (tel 0171 928 0621). For lobbying
activity, try the Directory of Associations & Proff. Bodies.
The register of Members' Interests should tell you who benefits
Find this out in PR Week or Marketing, or the PR Consultancy
Once you have your basic profile, examine it for anything dodgy
or interesting, and follow up Ask questions as...a journalist,
a student writing a thesis, a job-hunter...pick a flattering angle
the company (their community projects/ 'green' image-improving
etc) to win confidence. Visit: see what lorries stop, look
through windows, check rubbish bins, try walking straight in and
being lost(!) Talk to employees. Get a job with the company, if
you can stand it!
Always be friendly with accountants and secretaries. Look for
enemies of the company. Interview company reps last, when you
have a good case & it's harder for them to lie to you.
Brush up on the jargon and background knowledge. Anticipate possible
responses. Decide beforehand if you wish to leave your source
friendly or hostile to you after an interview. Document your interviews
in detail. Use open-ended questions, putting-at-ease questions.
Note what your interviewee doesn't want to talk about. Respect
off-the-record comments (use as leads only) - but convention is
that "off-the-record" must be said BEFORE the comments are made,
rather than in "oops, I shouldn't have said that"! -avoid offering
o-t-r. Use an alias that you can elaborate on if necessary. Alter
your memorable features (glasses/smoking etc). Use a callbox NOT
outside your house. Back up your sources carefully. In writing
use devices such as "according to", "allegedly" etc. Keep incriminating
WHAT TO DO NEXT
You are limited only by your imagination (and your feelings about
the possible consequences!). Things people have done before include:
public-awareness raising on future developments, freephone calling,
fax blockades, junkpost campaigns, targeting tenderers, shareholder-educating,
site occupations, office occupations (a way to get more info too),
work disruption, AGM disruption, getting media onto company dodginess
and corruption, taking companies to court for false advertising
and illegal operations.