24-Year Academy Veteran Goes to the Other Side as Oscars Awards Consultant (Exclusive)

Jonathan Taylor and Ric Robertson -H 2016
Courtesy of Susan Landau/Courtesy of Subject; Courtesy of Subject

The booming business of awards-season consulting is about to become a little more competitive. And this time, the competition is coming from a true Academy insider.

Ric Robertson, a high-ranking official at AMPAS from 1989-2013 (he was COO the last three years), has teamed with Jonathan Taylor, a longtime Los Angeles-area entertainment journalist turned media consultant, to form the PR and marketing consultancy Robertson Taylor Partners. With the Emmy season in full gear and Oscar campaigns set to kick off later this summer, the duo already has begun to line up prominent clients.

Robertson and Taylor, who are as well-versed as anyone in the tastes of Oscar voters and the ins and outs of awards campaigning, quietly worked in support of Strategy PR's efforts for The Revenant last season. "They were an amazing resource," Strategy founder and president Cynthia Swartz tells THR. "For someone resolutely based in New York like me, it was very, very helpful to have such experienced eyes and ears on the ground in L.A. — people who know the rules and how everything works so well that they could really jump in and take over nuts-and-bolts stuff."

Awards campaigning has become a sophisticated business in recent years as the road to the Oscars has become littered with ancillary ceremonies, voter meet-and-greets and myriad media devoted to the season. In addition, Emmy campaigns have become far more prevalent as the number of outlets clamoring for attention has multiplied.

Robertson and Taylor emphasize that they are just as prepared to offer advice about leadership, organization and communications as they are to provide guidance to awards campaigns. For example, they're advising a high-end security services company, among other corporate clients. But they acknowledge they have a special skill set when it comes to awards voters.

"There's nobody like Ric, who knows not only the awards business but also organizational structure," says Taylor. "The Academy is a challenging place, and he did a great job of managing it for years." Adds Robertson: "Having known and admired Jonathan for years when he was covering the Academy, I knew he and I would work well together. … We're not looking to be big, we're looking to be good, so we plan to work with only a very select group of clients."

This story first appeared in the July 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.