Communicator of the Year Awards

Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year Awards

Since 2005, the Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year Awards have recognized individuals and institutions who have demonstrated excellence in strategic communications to improve the quality of life in Marion County.

The award is named in honor of Wilton F. “Marty” Martin, an Ocala native and co-founder of the Florida Public Relations Association, the nation’s oldest association of public relations professionals. FPRA got its start in Marion County in 1938 when Martin was publicity director for the Silver Springs attraction. Today, the Association has more than 1,000 members in 15 professional chapters throughout Florida. The Ocala Chapter was chartered in 1980 and named FPRA’s Chapter of the Year in 2016 and 2018.

Institutions recognized for outstanding communications have included the Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition, the Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP), and the Silver Springs International Film Festival.

Recipients of the Individual Communicator of the Year award have included Martin’s son, Buddy Martin, honored in 2011 for his role in the successful Save the Marion Theatre campaign. Martin was also recognized in 2021 with the Association’s Lifetime Achievement in Communications award. The other Lifetime winners were awarded in 2018 to Toni James, APR, CPRC, former longtime president of United Way of Marion County, and in 2017 to the late David Cook, retired Star-Banner editor and author of “The Way It Was” and “The Way It Was, Vol. 2,” about Ocala/Marion County history.

View past winners


The Individual Communicator of the Year recognizes the person who uses his/her position to enhance Marion County’s community causes, advance the field of public relations and uphold the ethical standards representing the Ocala Chapter. Institutional recognition honors the Institution/Media Outlet that has gone above and beyond to provide timely, accurate and critical information to the community, and has demonstrated mastery of communications skills and strategies.

The institutional recognition could be awarded based on year-round consistent effort or a singular example of outstanding communication.

In 2017, David Cook received the chapter’s first Lifetime Achievement in Communications. In 2018, Toni James, APR, CPRC, became the second professional to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2021 Buddy Martin received the award. Although this award is not necessarily given on an annual basis, consider whether or not you have a worthy candidate to nominate.


Candidates for Communicator of the Year should:

  • Represent the field of communications.
  • Be active in the Citrus or Marion County County community and show how they use their position to make a difference in the community.
  • Show how they contribute to the public relations profession.
  • Uphold the ethics and values of FPRA.
  • Maybe nominated by a member of FPRA or the community, but may not be self-nominated.
  • Past winners may be nominated again.

Recognition and Benefits

The Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year Award winners will be announced at the annual awards ceremony

  • Award nominees receive a complimentary ticket and recognition.
  • Additional recognition via news release, social media, the website, and the member newsletter.

Submit Nomination