Step Five: Get the Latest News

Once you've gathered all the basic information you can about the company, you'll want to find out what's happening with the company now and what has happened in the recent past. You'll want to look for newsworthy information about the company. This could include new or anticipated product introductions or changes in key personnel. It may even include some negative news, such as lawsuits filed against the company or financial problems that company may be experiencing.

You should look for news about the company that occurred during the past year, with a focus on the most recent news. These newsworthy items may have shown up in newspapers, magazines, and business journals.

It would be an enormous (and probably an impossible) task to search through these publications individually to find the information you need, even though many have Web sites on which they archive past issues. Fortunately there are several tools that will help expedite this process.

Searching for News on the Web

Google, Yahoo!, and Ask.com all have news sections that you can use to find current headlines about a company (or any topic). Click on the “News” link located on the front page of any of these search engines. Once you get to the news search page, you simply type in your search term (the company name, for example), just as you would if you were doing a regular search. The only difference is that the search engine looks through news sources rather than regular Web sites. Topix.net is a search engine devoted exclusively to news.

Since news occurs continuously, there is a chance that something can happen after you've done your search. All the search engines mentioned above are updated throughout the day and the news headlines you find on them could be only minutes old.

If you want to keep track of breaking news for your company — and you should — you can subscribe to a news alert, which you may also see referred to as a news feed. A news alert will let you know, by e-mail, when there is breaking news on the topic you specify. A news feed sends current headlines to a news-feed reader or news aggregator. (This will be covered in more detail later.) Google and Yahoo! offer alerts through both e-mail and news feeds, while Topix.net only offers a news feed. In any of these search engines, you simply do a search for your topic and then look for a link to “news alerts.” Provide your e-mail address and specify how often you want to receive alerts, and you're set.

Bloglines.com is a free Web-based news-feed reader. You can subscribe to feeds from news sites and blogs and use them to create a personal page on Bloglines. You can choose to share your page with others or you can keep it private.

Subscribing to a news feed is a bit more involved, but it isn't difficult to do. First you must sign up for a news-feed reader or an aggregator. You may also see this referred to as an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader. This is a type of software that collects news feeds to which you subscribe. A few of these are Web based — you access them through a Web site using a personal username and password. There are other types of news-feed readers available, but we will focus only on the Web-based ones here. Once you've signed up for a news-feed reader, you can subscribe to a Web feed on one of the news search engines described previously. After doing your search, click on the orange button that says either XML or RSS. For a good primer on RSS and news feeds, read the article “What Is RSS?” (www.whatisrss.com).

Business Databases and Newspaper Indexes

There is one major drawback to news search engines. All of them only post news from the last thirty days. Since, ideally, you should get news that occurred during the entire year, you must look to other sources. One source is a business database. Business databases are usually available by subscription only. Fortunately, most public libraries subscribe to them and allow their patrons access. Check with the reference librarian at your library to find out which databases they have available. Then find out if you can use them at home, through the library Web site, or if you must use them at the library.

Your library may subscribe to one or more of the following databases: General BusinessFile ASAP from Gale, Predicasts PROMT, Mergent Online, and Business Source Premier from EBSCO. You should also look in a national newspaper index, particularly one that lists articles from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. A good one is EBSCO's Newspaper Source.

Press Releases

Press releases are another good source of company information.

When a company has news it wants to share with the public, very often it issues a press release. It will send the press release to various news organizations that may or may not choose to publish the information. PR News-wire distributes press releases on behalf of public relations professionals. You can search for press releases, by company on PR Newswire's Web site: www.prnewswire.com. You can also search for press releases about various industries on this Web site.

Blogs

Blogs, shorthand for weblogs or Web logs, are online journals or diaries. Although in the past they have been frequently associated with teens writing about the details of their daily lives, they have come into their own as a place to post continuously updated information on a variety of topics. There are blogs that focus on every topic you can think of.

Companies use blogs to help make the public aware of the latest news about their products and services. Employees maintain these corporate blogs, often writing about their areas of expertise.

The Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki, which can be found at www.socialtext.net/bizblogs/index.cgi, lists blogs maintained by employees of Fortune 500 companies. All blogs listed on this site are open to the public. There is also a link to the Global 1000 Business Blogging page, which lists blogs from large companies that aren't in the Fortune 500.

While some companies encourage their employees to post information to official company blogs, there are many unofficial blogs floating around the Web. Those blogs are where you might find information employers might not want the public to see. For example, ex-employees might post unfavorable comments about the companies for whom they worked. You may learn something by looking at these blogs, but remember not to believe everything you read.

In addition to learning about prospective employers by reading blogs, you can also learn a lot about various industries. Many trade and professional associations publish blogs. One way to find out if your trade or professional association publishes a blog is by going to their Web site. If they do have a blog, you might see it right on their front page, or you might see a link to it on the menu. You can also find blogs published by people who work in different industries. Those who write those blogs often are the movers and shakers in their fields. If you want to know what's going on in an industry, reading a blog is often the best way to do it.

It seems that a lot of people have a lot to say! There are many blogs out there but your time is limited. So, how do you figure out which industry blogs you should be reading? Ask people who work in the industry in which you are looking for a job. They should know which blogs are “must-reads” and which you can skip.

You can search for blogs in several ways. Technorati.com (www.technorati.com) is a blog search engine. Use the “Blog Finder” tool to search in Technorati's directory of blogs. Many of the standard search engines have blog-search tools. Try Google's Blog Search (http://blogsearch.google.com) or Ask.com's Blogs and Feeds (www.ask.com/#subject:bls|pg:1) to find blogs about the industries or companies for which you need to find information.

To keep up with the latest postings on a blog, you can subscribe to its RSS news feed. You would use a news-feed reader or aggregator, as described earlier. You can use the same one you use to read feeds from news sites. Click on a link that says “subscribe” or on an RSS or XML button on each blog you want to subscribe to.

  1. Home
  2. Get a Job
  3. Researching Companies
  4. Step Five: Get the Latest News
Visit other About.com sites: