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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.


Overton conducts public relations research in the areas of corporate social responsibility communication 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. 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

Four Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication Legacy Scholar Grants.

2018: Moment of Truth: Understanding Corporate Rumors and the Psychology of Rumor Spread on Environmental Issues via Social Media (Co-PI with Fan Yang.)

2018: Understanding Native Communication of Corporate Social Responsibility. (Co-PI with Linwan Wu.)

2015: Communicating Social Responsibility: An Experimental Analysis of Message Strategies in Nonprofit and For-profit Sectors.

2014: Embracing the opportunity: How Big Ten Schools Communicate Sustainability to Key Stakeholders.

Selected Publications

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»

Xiao, A., & Overton, H.K. (2018). Examining the impact of value orientations on CSR evaluations and expectations among U.S. and Chinese publics. Public Relations Journal, 11(4), 1-24. 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» 


Faculty Director, Public Relations/Strategic Communications Research Group

Research Committee Chair, Public Relations Division,  Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)

At-Large Director, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Educators Academy

Editorial Board Member, Journal of Public Interest Communications

Reviewer for academic journals including Public Relations Review, Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Journal, Journal of Public Relations Education, International Journal of Strategic Communication, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Applied Communication Research, and Journal of Communication Management.

Graduate Council, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina 

Graduate Admissions Committee, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.