Building Cohesive, Collaborative Teams to Achieve Client Goals

Written by: Nicole Hunt

Over the past years, Urban Emu has grown exponentially. We are deeply proud of our growth because it means we can expand our mission to bring the absolute best talent to our exceptional clients. And we think it’s time for some formal introductions. Welcome to a new series where we will introduce you to the esteemed members of our team who make Urban Emu great!

To start this series, we sat down with Emily Dammeyer, Chief of Strategy Integration at Urban Emu. Emily joined the Urban Emu team at the end of 2022 and has been instrumental in our growth and in planning the future of our agency.

Q. Emily, thanks for taking the time to do this Q&A session. We are so grateful you’re here and happy to share your story. To get started, your official title at Urban Emu is Chief of Strategy Integration – but can you tell us how you interpret that title and role for yourself?

A.  I see myself primarily as a connector. In the most obvious way, I connect our clients’ goals and objectives with sound strategies to make them happen – but I also connect internal team members with clients and projects that leverage their unique skillsets and interests. I connect our clients’ goals with tailored marketing strategies, messaging, and creative concepts that inspire action. I really see relationships as the most essential part of this role, so I connect our teams cohesively to one another.

Q. Do you have a philosophy surrounding strategic campaign planning? Or do you approach each client and campaign differently?

A.  I like to begin by understanding the audience. What research already exists about our audiences? What data might we need to better understand their needs or motivations? Understanding our audiences can help check our own biases, so I like to start there and use that lens to develop our strategies, messages, and tactics that meet the campaign goals. After that, every campaign is a little different.

Q. You mentioned that relationships are very important to you. How would you describe your approach to communicating with and building relationships with clients?

A.  Establishing trust is critical in any successful relationship, so that’s paramount to me with client communications. I try to listen to understand what our clients need, how they prefer to communicate, and their barriers and pain points.

Q. You’re spearheading strategic campaign planning for our current campaign with The US Department of Agriculture and MyPlate. Can you share what you’re working on in that campaign?

A.  When we think about health disparities and social determinants of health, having access to healthy and nutritious food can significantly impact overall health and quality of life. MyPlate offers a variety of resources designed to help people learn about healthy eating so they can make small changes that add up over time. It meets people where they are. The information is based on science, and it’s free. Urban Emu is supporting the USDA in raising visibility and understanding of MyPlate and its offerings. That may sound straightforward, but there is a lot of information being consumed – especially online and on social media – that can leave people feeling confused, so we’re trying to build off of research and what we know about our audiences and be creative in our approach.

Q. You worked in some very interesting roles before joining us at Urban Emu. You were the project director for the Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, where you led the digital strategy, research, design, and content for and You also worked for the National Institute of Health Office of the Director, where you were instrumental in creating two new websites built in Drupal 8 for NIH’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. What lessons did you learn while working on a government project during a national crisis?

A. The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented time for public health communications. Supporting the NIH’s response to the pandemic was a privilege, as it provided a close-up view of the swift, multi-pronged approach to addressing the pandemic. I led a team that set up two websites in a very short time. We needed to be efficient and strategic, so we leaned on prior research and best practices to create a digital strategy that incorporated stakeholder feedback, centered on the audiences’ needs, responded to the current challenges, and was scalable for the future. It was an intense time, but I’m so proud of the important work we did, particularly during a time when misinformation was rampant.

Q. You’ve had a highly collaborative career, managing teams and individuals with different skill sets, from communications specialists to UX designers to web developers. What have been some of the takeaways from working in so many teams?

A. I derive a lot of energy from my colleagues and enjoy learning from them. Creating space for different perspectives and voices is important to me, whether it’s someone’s professional training, lived experience, or personal passion. When working in a team and creating a strategy, I like to create healthy tension among the team. That means a space where everyone feels comfortable expressing their point of view, where no one person’s ideas or viewpoint “wins,” and we allow enough time for iterating on ideas. I’ve found that this collaborative approach allows us to learn from each other, leading to better ideas and solutions.

Q. With such a diverse and robust career history, is there any one project or experience you’re most proud of?

A. When I first started out, there was no social media, so most communication was offline. The world is much different today, with the popularity of social media, the decline of traditional newspapers, and the challenge of trying to parse through credible information. As a parent, I’m particularly aware of how difficult it is to navigate! I’ve worked extensively in healthcare and public health, industries that aren’t known for pushing the envelope when it comes to digital communications. But throughout my career, I’ve evolved with technology and the channels through which we communicate. I’ve helped develop strategies to launch new websites and social channels based on a solid understanding of our audiences and the need to reach them where they are. Being flexible, nimble, and open to new ideas and strategies is something I take pride in.

Q. What is your favorite thing about your job and the work you do?

A. I love working with smart, creative team members who are passionate about supporting mission-driven organizations. I learn a lot from them and value what they bring to Urban Emu individually. Fostering a collaborative, supportive environment while helping our clients fulfill their purpose is the best part of this work.

We’re so grateful to have Emily on our team to work with our clients and lead our marketing communications efforts. Stay tuned for more teammate spotlights.

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Urban Emu is an experience agency with a fast growing team of experience designers, facilitators, strategists, researchers, UX/UI designers, and software engineers that create innovative experiences to improve and transform businesses.

We love to hear about ideas big or small. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us regarding your project.