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Cronkite PR Lab Director Lisa Schmidtke (right) works on a project with 2019 graduate Ashlee Thomason. (Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now)
Lisa Schmidtke, an award-winning marketing, public relations and communications professional and alumna of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has joined the Cronkite School as its Public Relations Lab director.
Schmidtke comes to Cronkite after nearly 20 years leading marketing and public relations teams in Arizona, primarily in the health care sector. She previously served as general manager and head of health care practice communications at the Scottsdale office of Allison + Partners, a global PR and communications firm.
Schmidtke also has held positions as both a marketing and public relations director for several health care organizations, including Abrazo Health Care, Conifer Health Solutions, Paradise Valley Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and Tenet Healthcare.
“I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by,” Schmidtke said. “It’s not often you are given the chance to join a university of this caliber while also having a long-lasting impact on students’ lives.”
A 1997 graduate in broadcast journalism, Schmidtke began her career as an assignment editor at KNXV-TV in Phoenix before transitioning to public relations at St. Joseph’s in 2001. She has served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona and the Susan G. Komen of Arizona. Her volunteer work includes the American Heart Association, Habitat for Humanity, United Way and Make-a-Wish Foundation.
“Lisa is a communications leader with corporate and agency experiences that add greatly to our program,” said Cronkite Professor of Practice Mark Hass, who led the search committee for the position. “Her work integrating digital, data and creative into award-winning campaigns will be a great benefit to our PR Lab students who are preparing to enter a rapidly changing public relations industry.”
Fran Matera, who has served as the PR Lab’s director since 2011 and as an assistant and associate professor since 1989, will continue teaching public relations courses, including a new crisis communication course that she is developing. She also will continue serving as a mentor and advisor for the PR Lab.
As the founding director of the PR Lab, Matera “has done a remarkable job building a program that gives students the highest level of preparation for careers in strategic media,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “We’re now looking forward to building on that very solid foundation under Lisa’s direction and leadership.”
Launched in Fall 2011, the Cronkite PR Lab is designed as an intensive learning environment for upper level undergraduates and graduate students. It functions like an agency, with student teams working on behalf of clients to develop strategic plans. Lab teams have worked with clients that range from Fortune 500 companies and federal agencies to nonprofits and start-ups, including Avnet, Honeywell Aerospace, Intel, Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, Phoenix Zoo, various U.S. government agencies and Walmart.
Students work in a state-of-the-art space that includes the Riester Room for Collaboration, and they leave the lab with professional portfolios and experiences in all aspects of PR, including messaging, event promotion, image and reputation management, internal and external communication and corporate communications strategies.
Since 2011, PR Lab students have won industry honors from Accolade Global Film Competition, Hermes Creative Awards, PR News’ Platinum PR Awards, PRSA Phoenix Copper Anvil Awards and Public Relations Society of America Bronze Anvil Awards.