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How to measure and categorize the different tiers of news media outlet types

By Marjorie Comer

Understanding these four media tiers can help you gain quality media coverage.


A woman reading a newspaper.Educating clients and helping them learn more about news media outlets, reporters, and pitching are a larger part of public relations professionals’ job than many realize. Therefore, understanding the ins and outs of news media outlets and how you can measure and categorize them is crucial to your ability to work successfully with clients.




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Types of media outlets

When people consider news media outlets, they often think of traditional print media or broadcast. There are three main types of media outlets: print, broadcast, and internet, which includes websites and videocast. Within each type of outlet, outlets are ranked according to media exposure in four different tiers. 


Media Tiers

Many companies and their executives view Good Morning America or USA Today and know these are national outlets many people consume, which means significant exposure. However, these top-tier news media outlets may not actually be where your organization needs to seek coverage. So what are the different types of media tiers?

  • Tier 1, or the top tier, includes national news, consumer, and business outlets with an audience of 20+ million. Podcasts with a 90 to 100 Listen Score also fall under the Tier 1 category.

  • Tier 2 media outlets include national news and consumer and business outlets with an audience of 10 to 20 million. Your industry-specific news media outlets with an audience of 150,000 are in the Tier 2 category. Podcasts with a 75 to 89 Listen Score also fall under this category.

  • Tier 3 includes national news, consumer, and business outlets with an audience of 3 to 10 million. The local news media outlets in the 1 to 10 DMA are in the Tier 3 category, as well as podcasts with a 50 to 74 Listen Score.

  • Tier 4, or the lower tier, includes national business and consumer outlets with an audience of 300 thousand to 3 million, as well as industry trade media with an audience of 20 to 75 thousand. This includes local television, newspaper, and radio in DMA markets 11 to 75 and podcasts with a Listen Score of 49 or less.

While earning coverage in top-tier news media outlets may be your initial aspiration, it may not be where your company would see the most benefit.


Your company may not be ready to reach a Tier 1 audience, and a local audience in a lower tier may engage more with your company and services. Your PR firm needs to be an advisory partner with you to achieve your goals, and you should use these tiers to your advantage to gain quality media coverage in outlets that benefit your company while building relationships with media contacts.


Be sure to read Axia Public Relations’ e-book, "Learn Media Relations from the Media,” for insider tips on best practices for earning media coverage.


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Marjorie Comer.Clients love Marjorie’s work ethic, speed and diligence. She has worked with Axia Public Relations since October 2011. Marjorie graduated from Rockhurst University with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and loves to cheer for her hometown Kansas City Royals. Learn more about Marjorie.


Photo by Ono Kosuki

Topics: earned media, news media

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