Listening provides companies with a host of valuable and actionable insights, which can drive communications objectives and business outcomes. It ultimately enables brands to avoid crises.

The power of listening to avoid crises is brilliantly illustrated using the example of the wildfires that devastated communities in Northern Alberta, and in particular the city of Fort McMurray. In this example, listening actually saved lives.

As the fires forced the evacuation of 90,000 residents from the area in May of this year, the press secretary for the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Robin Smith, worked with the emergency services teams to listen to the public, directing fire crews to the most threatened and vulnerable areas.

Blocked roads, danger points and power outages were all found as a result of listening to the public, as they reported such calamities in real-time through social media, and in particular, through tweets.

As 2,400 homes were ravaged by the fire, no lives were lost.

While this may be an extreme example of a crisis, it thoroughly illustrates the importance of implementing a social listening campaign.

“Even if brands aren’t up against a crisis, they can save time, manpower and money by deploying a successful listening program,” explains James Rubec, Cision’s Content Strategist.

As the recovery efforts of the post-fire weeks kicked in, the Municipality of Wood Buffalo continued their listening campaign, and the uncovered insights became elemental to the restoration of the community.

“We lost power in significant parts of the community during the fire. By listening to social conversation, we found that people were concerned about their fridges which were full of rotten food,” said Smith.

What did the Municipality do with this insight? A white goods pickup program was organized to remove over 10,000 fridges of rotting waste. This proactive action was driven by social listening.

Listening can help your organization:

  • Respond: Identify needs from existing audiences and supply relevant information or services
  •  Evolve: Use insights to lead change internally and externally
  • Activate: Drive results from real-time data through benchmarking and optimization


Our latest white paper, Listening: Turn real-time media channel insights into communications action plans, examines the power of listening, the fundamental basis of any social listening program as well as specific examples of what your organization or brand should listen for in its existing audience.

To learn more about how to build a social listening program for your brand, download this free white paper today.

About Amy-Louise Tracey

Amy-Louise Tracey is the Communications Manager at CNW Group. Follow her @AmyLouiseTracey.

Read previous post:
Should Your Brand Be Using User-Generated Content?

This post originally appeared on Any type of content created by unpaid contributors falls into the category of user-generated...