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How SeatGeek Measures PR Coverage

SeatGeek is a data-obsessed company and there’s no set of numbers more fun to track than company metrics. In every corner of the SeatGeek office hang television screens or posters where trends on web traffic, server response time, and revenue are prominently displayed. For awhile, PR was one of the rare aspects of our business that eluded our quantitative efforts. The obvious measurements like PR traffic and the count of PR mentions seemed in isolation to do a poor job conveying the success of our efforts. We recently devised a better framework for measuring the value of each press hit. Our solution was to decompose each PR mention into a series of objective criteria and create a formula to score each hit based on what we deem most important. This allows us to set ambitious, measureable goals of what we want to achieve in PR and track progress on a weekly basis.

Before addressing how we quantify PR, it is worth spending a few moments discussing SeatGeek’s PR strategy. Our PR coverage tends to fall into two buckets: feature coverage and data mentions. The former doesn’t require much explanation; these are articles in business or tech press about SeatGeek like this piece in Entrepreneur Magazine or in BusinessWeek. Feature coverage tends to be lumpy. New investors, partnerships, and features are noteworthy events, but these occur irregularly. While feature coverage is the best type of PR, we need to supplement it with more frequent data coverage.

SeatGeek sits on a gold mine of sports and music ticketing data, and we use this data to shed unique insight into fan sentiment. For example, when Derek Jeter closed in on his 3000th hit, we noticed that ticket prices spiked on the secondary ticket market. Eager fans shelled out $181 on average for the Thursday night game against the Rays, 224% higher than face and 258% greater than the average for the season. Ben Kessler, our Director of Communications, analyzed the data and shared it with reporters who included it when discussing the game. Every week there are stories in sports and music about an artist going on tour, a team riding a winning streak, or a player getting traded. We can measure fan reaction through ticket prices.

SeatGeek has a simple backend module where our team enters all press mentions. When we enter each mention, we mark whether the article made it to print, if we got a link, if someone on our team was quoted, and other metrics. Importantly, we avoid subjective criteria. It’s tempting to have a scale to rank the “prestige of publisher that featured SeatGeek” but two people could arrive at very different values. Instead, to measure something like the legitimacy of the publisher, we’d use the PageRank of the domain’s homepage.

Our current formula to score each article is:

PageRank + 5*isFeatureArticle + isLinked*1.2^PageRank +
2*isTelevised + 0.3*(isPrint + isQuoted) +
if(Referral traffic in 48 hours following article > 500,  traffic / 100) +
isFeatureArticle * isSportsWriter

SeatGeek’s PR formula is a direct representation of our business goals. We reward feature coverage and links from high page rank sites because direct and search engine traffic are our fastest-growing user acquisition channels. Startups not focused on SEO may not attach the same emphasis here so there certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to measuring PR.

Establishing a quantitative framework for measuring PR facilitates goal-setting. Every week we aspire to get around 40 PR points, which usually amounts to around 4 press hits. We expect to ramp up to 65 weekly PR points by the end of the year because getting PR becomes easier when you have established relationships with reporters. Having all our press scores in a database lets us easily visualize our data and our customer-facing press section is always up to date.