Cheryl Overton | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2018
Charting the future of public relations
Innovator 25 NA Cheryl Overton

Cheryl Overton 

President    

Egami Group   
New York    

“The roller coaster and uncertainty IS the process. Be willing to lose some control.”
Cheryl Overton has the instinct for insights and knack for leveraging popular culture to drive brand awareness. During her nearly 20 years of agency and entrepreneurial experience, she has led campaigns such as Proctor & Gamble’s “Thank You Mom” and “My Black is Beautiful,” Jeep’s Operation SAFE Return, Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women. Her visionary bent towards bringing brands together with a purpose has now become the accepted gold-standard for brand marketing. 

In what area(s) does the PR need to innovate the most?
Diversity, analytics and measurement, paid opportunities  

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines? 
50/50 - Sometimes PR leads in innovation and other times it feels we’re still in the dark ages 

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation? 
Content creation 

Who most influences how innovative a brand's engagement is? 
CMO 

How do you define innovation? 
Innovation is the freedom to fearlessly create and problem-solve original ways to improve people’s lives

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
I loved the Adidas execution for Boston Marathoners - using technology, equipment and sweat equity to give the participants a personalized video and soundtrack of their journey. It’s the perfect blend of technology and heart.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing? 
Aside from Egami Group (smile), I find myself engaged with integrated work coming out of Droga, Chandelier Creative and Narrative. From a PR perspective, I served as a Big Apple Award judge this year and was especially impressed with entries from Ketchum.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.' 
Right here and now! The opportunity to broaden the Egami Group’s reach requires innovation in operations, business development, talent acquisition and, of course, client experience. It’s challenging me to ideate differently and build new partnerships to fuel growth.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?  
Oprah Winfrey because she’s willing to experiment even though she’s reached the pinnacle. Issa Rae because she’s willing to expose intimate truths and vulnerabilities to broad audiences. Danny Meyer because he finds ways to revolutionize the hospitality experience from both customer and professional perspective.

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
Travel inspires me. Wherever I go, I find opportunities to immerse myself in culture by creating jewelry, cooking, chatting with elders, visiting a school or farm, etc. Talking to other makers and doers around the world opens my mind and fills my spirit with ideas that inspire work with teams and clients.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
My advice: don’t be afraid to fail or get dirty. Innovation requires trial, error and experimentation. The roller coaster and uncertainty IS the process. Be willing to lose some control.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I’d host and produce a show highlighting travel and cultural adventures.

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not directly related to PR/marketing/business?
(Book)The Hate U Give/(movie)Won’t You Be My Neighbor/(podcast) Stuff You Missed in History Class/(article) NY Magazine - How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People