Nicole Macias and John Nicoletti

Cronkite School to launch new strategic communications agency

Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022


The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is combining two of its award-winning programs to form a new integrated strategic communications agency that will allow students to develop communication strategies and implement comprehensive campaigns for local, regional and national clients.

The school will launch the Cronkite Agency, merging its Public Relations Lab and Digital Audiences Lab to allow students to gain real-world experience serving corporate and not-for-profit clients while leveraging the expertise of the Agency’s faculty leaders. 

The agency will also integrate the RWJF Southwest Health Reporting and Communications Initiative, part of a multi-year, $1.3 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which will create a public relations campaign, community education outreach and digital marketing strategies aimed at the Spanish-speaking parents of young children in the Southwest.

John James Nicoletti will lead the Cronkite Agency as its executive director and professor of practice, and Nicole Macias will serve as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Strategic Communications professor of practice and work within the agency to lead the Southwest Health Reporting and Communications Initiative. The Digital Audiences Lab will continue to be led by professor of practice Abby Zufelt.

“The Cronkite School is known for its immersive, professional programs and the caliber of graduates who complete them,” said Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr. “With the creation of the Cronkite Agency, students will be able to learn and demonstrate their story-telling prowess to unique, diverse audiences through strategic communication campaigns, social media and digital marketing.”  

The Cronkite Agency will offer its clients a full range of services including communications strategy development, public relations campaigns, digital marketing, integrated communications, communications research, internal and external stakeholder engagement, content development, paid and organic social media campaigns, SEO, and paid search advertising and analytics.

The RWJF Southwest Health Reporting and Communications Initiative will engage Cronkite Agency students and seek to inform public officials, health care providers and others about the concerns and challenges surrounding health and health care in underserved communities across the Southwest. 

Given the growing geographic footprint of the Cronkite School at campuses in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, the Cronkite Agency will look to expand its offerings to students and clients in those locations in the future. The agency will also increasingly work on strategic communications projects with clients in the sports and health sectors as it taps into two of the fastest-growing areas of interest at the Cronkite School.   

Nicoletti has served as the interim director of the Cronkite Public Relations Lab since June, working with clients such as the Arizona Science Center, Bubble Skincare, Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Host Committee, Yubico and Phoenix Suns. 

Prior to joining Cronkite, Nicoletti was senior vice president, corporate communications at InStride, a workforce education company. Previously, Nicoletti worked for more than a decade at The Walt Disney Company in the Parks & Resorts and Walt Disney Studios segments, leading global and site-based communications teams. He also was the chief spokesperson for the City of Anaheim, Calif. and has served as an adjunct professor at several universities including Pepperdine University and the University of Southern California.

Macias has spent the last seven years as director of multicultural strategy for AARP’s Office of Community Engagement, where she implemented marketing and communications strategies that increased membership and helped multicultural communities engage with the organization’s products. 

Before AARP, Macias was management supervisor with advertising agency d expósito & Partners in New York and previously worked at Arvizu Advertising & Promotions, Inc. in Phoenix.

For more information on working with the Cronkite Agency, please call 602.496.5051 or email