RIESTER advertising and public relations agency makes major gift to support Cronkite School

March 22, 2018

The owners of RIESTER, one of the region’s leading advertising and digital marketing firms, today made a six-figure gift to support students and programs at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Tim and Mirja Riester, principals of the Phoenix-based firm, have pledged their multi-year gift to establish an endowed scholarship for students as well as support the school’s Public Relations Lab, a full-service strategic communications agency in which students develop campaigns and strategies for clients that range from Fortune 500 companies to startups and nonprofits. Cronkite School The owners of RIESTER, one of the region’s leading advertising and digital marketing firms, today made a six-figure gift to support students and programs at ASU's Cronkite School. Download Full Image

“The integrity of journalism and journalists is being questioned today in the United States from leaders at the highest levels of government and business,” said Tim Riester, who also serves as CEO of RIESTER. “Having ASU’s Cronkite School, with its superior reputation and history of high teaching standards to train our nation’s future reporters and communicators, is arguably more important than ever before in modern history.”

The RIESTER Public Relations Endowed Scholarship will annually support students enrolled in the PR Lab at the Cronkite School. The gift comes on Sun Devil Giving Day, ASU’s annual celebration of philanthropy.

The gift also will name PR Lab’s conference room, where students and faculty meet with clients and develop their campaigns.

Additionally, the gift will provide support for Native American students interested in attending the Summer Journalism Institute, which brings top-performing high school students from underrepresented communities to the Cronkite School to receive hands-on experiences in broadcast and digital journalism.

“Motivating and supporting young adults from underrepresented populations to pursue careers in journalism is vital to ensure culturally sensitive and relevant news coverage in the future,” said Mirja Riester, who also serves as chief strategic officer of RIESTER.

Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan said the support comes at a critical time as the field of strategic communications continues to grow. He said RIESTER’s generous gift will help students launch their careers at the Cronkite School.

“This generous gift from Tim and Mirja will help us continue to grow and advance our efforts in providing a world-class education to our students,” Callahan said. “We sincerely appreciate their support and commitment to the future of our profession. We are looking forward to the dedication of the RIESTER PR Lab Conference Room.”

Founded in 1989, RIESTER has been successfully creating and revitalizing brands, launching products, changing consumer behaviors, and motivating people to care about issues that matter. 

Tim Riester leads the firm as CEO. Under his leadership, RIESTER was listed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in America for four consecutive years. Advertising Age listed the firm among the “20 Agencies to Watch in America.” And Forbes named RIESTER among the “Top 100 Global Ad Agencies That Know Social Media and Google.” He is a member of the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees, composed of top media leaders who advise the school on a wide array of issues.

Mirja Riester supervises research, strategic planning and manages the integration of all services within RIESTER. She established the European method of brand planning and strategy at RIESTER when she joined the firm in 1997 and has successfully launched new products, built brands and provided strategic marketing consulting for clients, including the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Gilead Sciences and MidFirst Bank.

ASU student research on reduction in nicotine levels wins AAAS award

March 22, 2018

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is still one of the top preventable causes of death in the United States, and the research of one Arizona State University undergraduate seeks to reduce that threat.

Gabriella Cabrera-Brown, a senior in the ASU Department of Psychology and honors student through the Barrett, The Honors College, was a winner of the 2018 Student E-poster Competition at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Austin, Texas. Cabrera-Brown presented a poster titled “Abrupt nicotine reduction increases the essential value of nicotine and exacerbates reinstated nicotine seeking.” Her poster stood out among numerous entries from universities across the country, and she won the Brain and Behavior category.   Gabriella Cabrera-Brown, ASU Psychology Senior Gabriella Cabrera-Brown, ASU Department of Psychology undergraduate who was a winner of the 2018 Student E-poster Competition at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Austin, Texas. Download Full Image

“I felt prepared, which was a good thing because I had seven judges on my panel,” Cabrera-Brown said. “I communicated the importance of nicotine regulation and the global impact it can have.”

Cabrera-Brown’s name and poster title will be printed in Science magazine, and she will receive a recognition certificate and year-long subscription to the journal.

Cabrera-Brown works in the Neurobiology and Behavior Addiction Lab with Cassandra Gipson-Reichardt, assistant professor of psychology. With Gipson-Reichardt, Cabrera-Brown studies nicotine addiction and what happens when the amount of available nicotine is reduced dramatically.

On March 15, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated that the amount of nicotine in tobacco products be drastically reduced, to near zero levels. The goal of this mandate is to improve smoking quit rates by reducing the nicotine content in cigarettes, which would presumably make them less addictive for both adults trying to quit as well as young people experimenting with cigarettes. 

Reducing nicotine levels might seem like a positive step toward combating smoking addiction; however, Cabrera-Brown is studying the effects of reducing nicotine levels on relapse vulnerability in Gipson-Reichardt's lab. Importantly, abruptly reducing nicotine levels to near zero, as opposed to a more gradual reduction, may impact successful nicotine use cessation outcomes. The researchers want to know if an abrupt introduction of less available nicotine in tobacco products translates to lower rates of addiction, which is the goal of the FDA mandate, or if less available nicotine could actually reinforce addictive behaviors.

To answer these important questions, Cabrera-Brown used a mathematical model from behavioral economics to show that reducing the potency of nicotine actually increased the demand for it.

“We found that if you reduce the dose of nicotine, you make it much more likely that the individuals will relapse in the future,” Cabrera-Brown said. “Less nicotine increased relapse vulnerability.”

Cabrera-Brown measured the vulnerability to relapse in individuals when they consumed nicotine at high doses compared to when they consumed nicotine at lower doses. She also looked at how much the individuals valued nicotine at the high and low doses and if that affected whether or not they relapsed. 

“We found that individuals consuming a lower dose of nicotine relapsed at a much higher rate. If you abruptly reduce nicotine levels for current smokers, they could have worse outcomes when trying to quit,” Cabrera-Brown said.  

Gipson-Reichardt is excited for Cabrera-Brown’s success.

“Winning the E-poster award is very exciting, and her research provides important data that informs regulatory policy by demonstrating preliminary evidence for manipulations to tobacco products,” said Gipson-Reichardt. 

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology