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What are top-tier media outlets?

By Marjorie Comer

Are they worth their weight?


A TV interview.Earned media coverage is one of the best ways to share your company’s story. Marketers and business leaders talk about wanting earned media coverage in "top-tier" news media outlets. But how do they define top-tier media versus not-top-tier media? Is there a public relations or journalism industry standard for top-tier?




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What’s top-tier?

Traditionally, top-tier media outlets are those with national or even global reach and are accessible to a significant number of consumers. Journalists and PR firms typically consider the top 25 outlets by reach to fall under the top tier – many of these outlets have a national and global reach and are often headquartered in New York City. Your top-tier media outlets are those major television networks, daily newspapers, and magazines. These often include The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, and those TV shows that millions of consumers wake up with in the mornings like the “Today” show and “Good Morning America.” 


Many of these top-tier outlets are consumer news outlets. You may be surprised that a business story in a consumer news outlet is still business-to-consumers instead of a business-to-business outlet.


We’ve listed the top 25 outlets:

  • BBC World News
  • Bloomberg Businessweek
  • Buzzfeed
  • CNN
  • Entrepreneur
  • Fast Company
  • Forbes
  • Fortune
  • Fox News
  • Good Morning America
  • Harvard Business Review
  • HuffPost
  • Inc.
  • Money
  • Newsmax
  • NewsNation
  • The Daily Mail Group
  • The Economist
  • The New York Times
  • The Today Show
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • The Washington Post
  • Time
  • USA Today

Pursuing top-tier

A square peg won’t fit into a round hole, which also applies to some companies and media outlets and news coverage. For some companies, having a story in a top-tier media outlet wouldn’t be, nor should it be, one of their top five key performance indicators. If your PR firm only has its eyes set on those top-tier media outlets and isn’t working as an advisory partner with you to achieve your goals, then you may have a problem. Luckily, with the ever-changing landscape of outlets, especially some well respected, niche outlets that are solely digital, there are a lot of media outlets that are within reach and fit a company’s goals more than a top-tier outlet.


Rather than pursuing those top-tier outlets, companies and their PR firms should search for outlets and build relationships with reporters at non-top-tier outlets that better fit their critical audience and overall make sense for a company. For example, if your company is only in Missouri, only doing business within the state and not shipping products or offering services outside the state, then what’s the overall benefit of being included in a new story that runs on a top-tier outlet? It could actually do more harm to your brand than good.


Beyond stroking “egos” in the executive team and “checking boxes,” you need a more strategic reason to have your brand, your products, services, and experts in these top-tier news outlets, especially if it doesn’t reach your target geographic or demographic audience.


It’s important to know your audience and build relationships with the right media contacts to have quality media coverage in the outlets that will benefit your company. Not sure where to start? Read Axia Public Relations’ e-book "Learn Media Relations from the Media” for more insider tips on best practices for pitching the media and earning media coverage.


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 cottonbro from Pexels

Topics: media relations, earned media, news media

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