Richard Licata began his career reporting the news for the New York Daily News, but, for 26 years, he has helped make news, by creating the buzz that attracts critical acclaim—and awards.
Licata, now executive VP of corporate communications for Showtime Networks, knows what's required to do his job well. “My top priority, the reason I was hired,” he says, “was to generate quality noise for Showtime's programming, to promote the Showtime brand as an industry leader.”
Since joining Showtime in 2004, he has gotten the job done, especially in the months leading up to the Emmys and Golden Globes. Last year, Blythe Danner from Showtime's Huff won the network's first-ever Emmy for best supporting actress; the network got four Golden Globe nominations, including a first-time nod for best television series–musical or comedy (for Weeds) and best miniseries or made-for-TV movie (Sleeper Cell).
“I sent out a box with the whole Huff season in February of last year with the hopes that Academy voters on a lazy Sunday would say, 'Hey, why don't we throw this in and see what this show is like,'” Licata recalls. “Lo and behold, it worked. A real cause and effect. [Huff] got seven Emmy nominations” for the 2004-05 season.
This year, Licata started even earlier, sending out copies of Showtime programs to Emmy voters in January, for nominations announced on July 6. He views such campaigns as a “significant brand-building exercise.”
Few know more about that than Licata. Last year, he won the Public Relations Society of America's award for outstanding professional. He was VP of media relations, West Coast, for Emmy-magnet HBO, which won 17 Emmys in 1993. The next year, he headed to Fox Broadcasting, where he revved up The X-Files and other hits. And prior to joining Showtime, while he was at Rogers & Cowen, he pushed FX's The Shield and Monk, with award-winning results. The Shield became the first cable drama to win a Golden Globe, and Monk star Tony Shalhoub's 2003 Golden Globe and Emmy victories as best actor in a drama or comedy were also a cable coup.
For Licata, it was just business as usual.