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College of Information and Communications

Faculty and Staff

Holly Overton, Ph.D.

Title: Associate Professor
Department: School of Journalism and Mass Communications
College of Information and Communications
Phone: 803-777-5238
Office: School of Journalism and Mass Communications
800 Sumter Street, Room 330
Columbia, SC 29208


B.A., Communication/Journalism, Shippensburg University
M.S., Communication Studies, Shippensburg University
Ph.D., Mass Communications, The Pennsylvania State University


Dr. Holly Overton teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in public relations and strategic communications. She designs her courses to encourage students to embrace critical thinking and reflection, experiential learning and practical application, diversity, and the art of storytelling. She enjoys working with students on service learning projects where they combine classroom instruction with hands-on learning opportunities. She teaches PR Principles, PR Campaigns, PR Management, Strategic Communications Principles, Corporate Social Responsibility, and more. She received the Educator of the Year Award from SCPRSA in 2019.


Overton conducts public relations research in the areas of corporate social responsibility communication, corporate social advocacy, and sustainability communication. Her research also focuses on examining psychological factors that impact information processing and engagement among publics, nonprofit public relations, and the persuasive impact of messages and technological factors in public relations contexts. She has published over two dozen peer-reviewed journal articles. Her work has appeared in over a dozen journals including Mass Communication and SocietyPublic Relations Review, International Journal of Strategic Communication, Public Relations Journal, Journal of Communication Management, Corporate Communications: An International Journal among others. She has received multiple top paper awards for her research from AEJMC, ICA, and PRSA.

Recent Grants and Awards

Overton was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow with the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication (2020-2024).

Overton's grant awards include a grant from the Glen M. Broom Center for Development in Public Relations in 2020 with Co-PI Anli Xiao to conduct research on Corporate Social Advocacy and OPR.

She also received four Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication Legacy Scholar Grants and was named a Page Center Legacy Scholar in 2014, 2015, and 2018.  

Selected Publications

Kim, J.K., Overton, H.K., Bhalla, N., & Li, J-Y. (2020). Nike, Colin Kaepernick, and the politicization of sports: Examining perceived organizational motives and consumer responses. Public Relations Review, 46(2), 1-10. Available here»

Li, J-Y., Kim, J.K., Overton, H.K., Bhalla, N., Zhang, N., Choi, M., & Moon, W. (2019).What shapes environmental responsibility perceptions? Measuring value orientations as a predictor of situational motivations and communicative action. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 13(3), 214-232. Available here»

Overton, H.K. (2018). Examining the impact of message frames on information seeking and processing: A new integrated theoretical model. Journal of Communication Management, 22(3), 327-345. Available here»

Harrison, V., Xiao, A., Ott, H.K., & Bortree, D.S. (2017). Calling all volunteers: The role of stewardship and involvement in volunteer-organization relationships. Public Relations Review, 43(4), 872-881. Available here»

Yang, F. & Ott, H.K. (2016). What motivates the public? The power of social norms in driving public participation with organizations. Public Relations Review, 42(5), 832-842. Available here» 

Ott, H.K., Wang, R., & Bortree, D.S. (2016). Communicating sustainability online: An examination of corporate, nonprofit, and university websites, Mass Communication & Society, 19(5), 671-687. Available here» 

Current Service

Faculty Director, Public Relations/Strategic Communications Research Group

Vice-Head Elect, Public Relations Division, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)

Editorial Board Member, Journal of Public Interest Communications and reviewer for many other journals

Member, College of Information and Communications Equity and Inclusive Excellence Advisory Council

Member, Dean’s Advisory Council

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.