Honesty Key To Public Information Officer’s Success

By  //  December 6, 2012

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Ex-Reporter Martinez Savors Palm Bay Duties

BREVARD COUNTY • PALM BAY, FLORIDA – Yvonne Martinez has spent most of her professional life on camera relaying hard-hitting news stories to people at home.

Now Martinez works behind the scenes, managing communication between law enforcement and the media as the Palm Bay Public Information Coordinator.

Palm Bay Public Information Officer Yvonne Martinez began her career as a television news reporter and formerly worked at WFTV and WKMG in Orlando. (Image courtesy of Yvonne Martinez)

Smooth transition

For Martinez, the transition from reporter to city official was pleasant.

“This is a good fit for me now… being able to manage the flow of information on this side of it, as opposed to waiting to receive it on the other side.” Martinez said.

Whether she is composing press releases or reporting breaking news, journalism has always been Martinez’s prime interest.

When she was 3, she moved from Washington, D.C. to Altamonte Springs where she attended Catholic school for eight years.

As a junior in high school, Martinez took her first journalism class.

“I knew then that was what I wanted to pursue – a career in journalism,” Martinez said.

After she graduated from high school, Martinez earned a bachelor’s degree in radio-television from the University of Central Florida. From there, she moved to Tallahassee, where she worked as a television news reporter for WTWC-TV, an NBC affiliate, and WCTV, a CBS affiliate.

“The feeling that you have both as an individual and having to be the one to communicate the information to the public, is indescribable.” Palm Bay Public Information Officer Yvonne Martinez

Martinez left Tallahassee when she was offered a job in Orlando. There, Martinez worked as a television reporter for WFTV Channel 9 for three years.

In 1993, she transferred to WKMG Channel 6, where she worked for nine years as a television reporter and a bureau chief.

In 2002, Martinez returned to WFTV before she began working at the Brevard County Sherriff’s Office a year later.

During her 13 years in television news reporting, Martinez’s most memorable moment was when she covered the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

“The feeling that you have both as an individual and having to be the one to communicate the information to the public, is indescribable,” Martinez said.

As a TV reporter covered many beats, including the Kennedy Space Center. Now as Palm Bay’s Public Information Officer, Martinez manages all aspects of communication between the city and the media. (Image courtesy of Yvonne Martinez)

Public duties

In 2003, she shifted from broadcast journalist to becoming the Public Information Officer for Brevard County. While in this position, Martinez managed the Emergency Operations Center of Media Communications during the 2004 hurricanes in central Florida.

Projecting the storms’ damage to the public was an unforgettable part of her career as Brevard’s Public Information Officer.

After two years as in this position, she became the Public Information Coordinator for the City of Palm Bay. Now, her responsibilities are endless.

From press conferences to public safety publications, Martinez manages all aspects of communication between the city of Palm Bay and the media.

“I get called out whenever there is a critical incident, natural disaster, controversial issue or budgetary problem,” Martinez said.  “My main function is to handle all communications for the city, police department and fire department.”

Martinez’s job can be demanding.

“I have to be in tune with everything that goes on in the city so I can communicate it to the public,” said Martinez.

Yvonne Martinez is shown in a promotional photo for WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando. She served two stints at the television station as a reporter. (Image courtesy of Yvonne Martinez)

Career choice

Despite the extensive effort it requires, Martinez says she prefers her profession as a Public Information Coordinator to any of her reporting jobs.

“As a reporter, the best time I had was covering breaking news, and most breaking news involved natural disasters, police and fire incidents and activity in local government,” said Martinez.

Because the people of Palm Bay rely on Martinez for information, it has always been her priority to be a trustworthy and credible source.

“As a reporter, I swore that if I was ever a representative of a government entity that I would strive to be open, honest and transparent. I think I have achieved that,” she said.

When she was a reporter, Martinez noticed the media has a natural distrust of government. She was determined to break that distrust and establish a credulous relationship with her audience.

“As a reporter, I swore that if I was ever a representative of a government entity that I would strive to be open, honest and transparent. I think I have achieved that.” Yvonne Martinez, Palm Bay Public Information Officer

Although Martinez has earned trust as a government representative — a nearly impossible feat — she does not consider it her greatest accomplishment. Instead, Martinez is most proud of her children. She has a daughter, 12, and a son, 15, who motivate her.

“They keep me running. They keep me young,” she said.

With two children and the people of Palm Bay depending on her, Martinez still has time to enjoy hobbies in her free time.

“I am a big baseball fan,” she said. “I have a lot of favorite teams, but my true favorite is the Chicago White Sox.”

When she has the time, Martinez loves to watch her favorite teams compete. “I want to see a game in every major league ballpark before I die,” said Martinez, who has already crossed 12 stadiums off the list.

She says her house is decked with baseball memorabilia.

Yvonne Martinez has served as Palm Bay Public Information Officer since 2005. (Image courtesy city of Palm Bay)

Looking ahead

Regarding her future, Martinez is focused on promoting trustworthiness in her field.

“I hope to expand on my ability to train other government representatives, police officers and firefighters on how to deal with the media in an open, honest and transparent manner, because I think that is lacking right now,” said Martinez.

She believes training is a vital part of the public information system, saying it is important to reach out to more entities so government representatives develop a greater trust with the general population.

“Training is very important and I think I need to pursue that to higher level than what I am doing now,” Martinez said.

Besides helping other people present the news in a straightforward fashion and watching more baseball, Martinez is unsure what she desires for her future. To her trusting fans, Martinez’s extensive experience and all-encompassing qualifications can only lead to endless opportunities for her.

Whatever her future holds, Martinez is certain it will be fascinating.

“I am still young. I have a lot of memorable moments ahead of me.”