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Bread Crumb Exercise: How Ready Are You? by Ron Campbell


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Ron Campbell presents "Bread Crumbs Exercise: How Ready Are You?" during the four-day, Reynolds Center webinar, "Investigating Private Companies and Nonprofits."

For more information about free training for business journalists, please visit

Published in: Economy & Finance, Business
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Bread Crumb Exercise: How Ready Are You? by Ron Campbell

  1. 1. How ready are you? Ronald Campbell [email_address]
  2. 2. <ul><li>I'll present a breaking story. </li></ul><ul><li>You'll have 4 to 5 minutes to think of solutions and type them in the Chat window. </li></ul><ul><li>Then I'll present my ideas. </li></ul>AGENDA
  3. 3. Anonymous caller: Layoffs at Montgomery Enterprises. They’re big, privately held, and they never return media calls. WEDNESDAY 4:45 P.M.
  4. 4. <ul><li>Call them anyway – at office and home </li></ul><ul><li>Check WARN notices </li></ul><ul><li>Find and call “formers” </li></ul><ul><li>Call competitors, trade groups </li></ul><ul><li>Check clip files </li></ul><ul><li>Check court records </li></ul><ul><li>Check trade press </li></ul><ul><li>Visit bars, restaurants near their office </li></ul>IDEAS
  5. 5. You discover a $250,000 federal tax lien filed a year ago and a $500,000 unemployment tax lien filed last month. THURSDAY, 10:30 A.M.
  6. 6. <ul><li>Make sure the liens have not been released </li></ul><ul><li>Look for other signs of distress (recent mortgages, unlawful detainers, UCCs) </li></ul><ul><li>Check Bankruptcy Court! </li></ul><ul><li>Look for related companies if any and check their finances too. </li></ul>IDEAS
  7. 7. You find an old story about Montgomery founder pledging $3 million for theater at Springfield College. It was never built. THURSDAY, NOON
  8. 8. <ul><li>Check the “pledges receivable” line in the college’s 990s for past few years. </li></ul><ul><li>If college has floated bonds, check audit footnotes (EMMA). </li></ul><ul><li>Has he left the board of trustees? </li></ul><ul><li>What does theater site look like? </li></ul><ul><li>Call the college and ask. </li></ul>IDEAS
  9. 9. Montgomery could lose one of its biggest offices at an eviction hearing in a neighboring county tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. THURSDAY, 4:30 P.M.
  10. 10. <ul><li>Make sure you’re in that courtroom. </li></ul><ul><li>Call the landlord’s attorney. </li></ul><ul><li>Call Montgomery’s attorney. Who knows? He might talk. </li></ul><ul><li>Read the lawsuit. Unlawful detainer suits sometimes contain great details. </li></ul>IDEAS
  11. 11. No one’s at the eviction hearing. You call the landlord’s attorney. He tells you Montgomery just filed Chapter 11. FRIDAY, 8:30 A.M.
  12. 12. <ul><li>Get the case number and the name and phone number of the attorney handling the bankruptcy </li></ul><ul><li>Go on PACER and read the “first day motions” </li></ul><ul><li>Talk with your new best friend, the attorney for the unsecured creditors’ committee </li></ul>IDEAS
  13. 13. You learn Springfield College trustees are meeting secretly. A source tells you the theatre project has collapsed and donors are panicking. FRIDAY, 1:30 P.M.
  14. 14. <ul><li>Look for patterns in past 5 years 990s: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are donations rising or falling? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is board gaining or losing clout? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examine college’s track record in completing big projects and capital campaigns. </li></ul><ul><li>Talk, off-record if necessary, with current, former trustees. </li></ul>IDEAS