Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

What Counts as a Media “Hit”? — The New PR Measurement Standards

(This post is an excerpt from an earlier Measurement Standard post "The State of Measurement Standards January 2013: It’s a Bridge, it’s a Bridge!" It is provided here to provide a quick way for readers to find standards on what items should be included in analyses. See the earlier post for more background, detail, and standards.)

The Coalition has released two standards-setting papers for the PR industry. The first, “Proposed Interim Standards for Metrics in Traditional Media Analysis," by Marianne Eisenmann, offers recommendations for how to calculate some of the most commonly debated data points in traditional media analysis. 

The paper proposes standard definitions for assessing the quality of media coverage including visuals, placement, prominence, message penetration, and spokesperson effectiveness. And it reiterates that AVEs should not be used as a measure of media.

Items for Analysis: What Counts as a Media "Hit"? 

A story counts only if it has passed through some form of “editorial filter,” i.e., a person has made a decision to run or not run the story. An item is:

  • An article in print media (e.g., The New York Times).
  • Newswire stories from organizations such as Dow Jones, Reuters, and AP. If the wire story is updated multiple times in one day, only count the story once in a 24-hour period using the latest, most updated version.
  • An article in the online version of print media (e.g.
  • An article in an online publication (
  • A broadcast segment (TV or radio). In the case of a broadcast segment that repeats during the day, each segment should be counted as an item because audiences change during the day. For example, a story broadcast at 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 6:00 PM on cable TV news counts as three items.
  • A news item on the website of a broadcast channel or station.
  • A blog post (e.g. ,WSJ Health blog,, etc.).
  • An analyst report.
  • A microblog post, e.g., a Tweet.
  • A post to a forum or discussion group.
  • A video segment on YouTube or other video sharing sites.
  • A photo on a photo sharing site.
  • A comment on a blog post, online news story, or other online item.
  • Reprints or syndication: Each appearance counts as a hit because they appear in unique, individual media titles with different readerships.
  • Company bylined features count as an article.

What does not count?

  • Press release pickups generated through "controlled vehicles," such as posting a story on PR Newswire or Business Newswire
  • Pay per post items
  • Paid bloggers
  • Public broadcast underwriting


Please note: We encourage you to comment on these developing standards. However, we suggest you go to the IPR site and read the entire paper first, then post your comment there.


Bill Paarlberg
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Bill Paarlberg

Bill Paarlberg co-founded The Measurement Standard in 2002 and was its editor until July 2017. He also edits The Measurement Advisor newsletter. He is editor of the award-winning "Measuring the Networked Nonprofit" by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine, and editor of two other books on measurement by Katie Paine, "Measure What Matters" and "Measuring Public Relationships." Visit Bill Paarlberg's page on LinkedIn.
Bill Paarlberg
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