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College of Information and Communications

Faculty and Staff

Holly K. Ott, Ph.D.

Title: Assistant Professor
PRSSA Co-Adviser
Department: School of Journalism and Mass Communications
College of Information and Communications
Phone: 803-777-5238

School of Journalism and Mass Communications
800 Sumter Street, Room 334
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 Ott teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in public relations. She designs her courses to encourage students to embrace critical thinking and reflection, experiential learning and practical application, diversity, and to evaluate and analyze the ways in which messages are constructed in the constantly growing and evolving field of mass communications.


Dr. Ott conducts public relations research in the areas of corporate social responsibility communication and sustainability communication with a focus on environment. 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 journals including Mass Communication & SocietyPublic Relations Review, Public Relations Journal, and Journal of Promotion Management, among others.


Ott received a Page Legacy Scholar Grant from the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication Legacy Scholar Grant for her examination of environmental responsibility messaging strategies.

Recent Publications

Waters, R.D., & Ott, H.K. (2017). Communicating social responsibility efforts: A success strategy for nonprofits or a shift from stakeholders’ priorities? In B.A. Brunner (Ed.), The moral compass of public relations.  

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.

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

Ott, H.K., Vafeiadis, M., Kumble, S., & Waddell, T.F. (2016). The effect of message interactivity on product attitudes and purchase intentions. Journal of Promotion Management, 22(1), 89-106.

*Johnson, K.G., Ott, H.K., & Drager, M.W. (2015). Writing tutoring boosts students’ skills and confidence. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 19(1). [*Selected for Editors’ Choice Award.]

Waters, R.D., & Ott, H.K. (2014). Corporate social responsibility and the nonprofit sector: Assessing the thoughts and practices across three nonprofit subsectors. Public Relations Journal, 8(3).


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

Editorial Board Member, Journal of Public Interest Communications

Reviewer for academic journals including Public Relations Journal, Journal of Promotion Management, and Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

Faculty Co-Adviser, PRSSA, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina

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

Graduate (M.A. & Ph.D.) Admissions Committee, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina