What is platinum?

Platinum has been called “white gold”; its name derives from the Spanish platino, meaning “little silver”.

Platinum is special – in chemical properties, colour and symbolism. Platinum is the name of a new book – more on that below.

The alchemical symbol for Platinum connects those of silver (moon) and gold (sun).

  • Platinum is a chemical element: symbol Pt. atomic number 78. atomic mass. 195.084 u.
  • Platinium is a set of six noble transition metals: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, platinum.
  • Platinum is a precious metal: Grey-white luster, one of rarest elements in the Earth’s crust. High melting point, electrical conductor, resistant to corrosion. Weighs 60% more than karat gold. Industrial use in automotive catalytic converters.
  • Platinum jewellery is: Up to 95% pure, hypoallergenic, tarnish resistant. Used in ancient Egypt, 3,000 years ago. Worked by South American Incas. Appeared in Europe, 1780, court of Louis XVI of France. Prized by great jewellers throughout history. Koh-i-Noor and other famous diamonds are secured by platinum settings.
  • Platinum blonde is: 1931 movie + nickname of Jean Harlow created by Howard Hughes’ publicity director.
  • Platinum brand is: prestigious sub-brand, a mark of high perceived status + emotional worth. As a credit card, platinum sits above gold – you pay for the privilege of high-roller spending.
  • Platinum record award is: a measure of commercial success introduced by Recording Industry Association of America in 1976 for one million record sales – starting with The Eagles’ Greatest Hits album.
  • Platinum anniversary is: a celebration of 70 years. Reflective of purity, rarity, strength and durability.  In the UK the Queen acknowledges 50th, 60th and 70th wedding anniversaries – and each subsequent year from the Platinum milestone.

Clearly it makes sense for Platinum to be the name chosen for the new book that has been published by CIPR to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

It is a crowdsourced anthology of essays, written by over 50 authors. Platinum comprises 45 chapters, plus an introduction and three forewords. The body is ordered into five key areas: perspectives, practice, performance, provocation and future potential of public relations.

This is an interesting book – but it isn’t a history of the Institute between 1948 and 2018. There are chapters that reflect on aspects of public relations over the past seven decades, or more specific periods. There are many more chapters that focus on contemporary aspects only.

Some chapters offer a vision of what will, or rather, might be – a brave move in our volatile age. Only time will tell what history will reveal of the Platinum authors’ recollections, reflections, assertions and predictions.

As with any collection – particularly one that is crowdsourced – the contents reveal a wide range of thinking. Nevertheless, the book achieves its aims of asserting the value of PR as a management discipline, as part of the CIPR’s seventieth anniversary celebrations.

As a commemorative work, Platinum offers breadth rather than depth of insight into current perceptions and perspectives of public relations – whether the essayists acknowledge history or not.

Platinum is certainly worth a read.

Platinum is available in print, ebook and pdf.  Sales support iProvision, the charity for CIPR members.

Concluding thoughts in relation to my chapter:

Yaxley, H. (2018). Professional qualifications: Past, present and future. In: Platinum. Waddington, S. (Editor). London: CIPR.

The opportunity to write an essay in Platinum enabled me to put on record the history of CIPR’s involvement in professional qualifications.

As well as research undertaken using my own historical collection of PR books and other literature (particularly Jacquie L’Etang’s excellent text: Public Relations in Britain), I visited the History of Advertising Trust in Norfolk.

This is where the archives of the Institute are held and it is a fantastic resource. Any short essay cannot do justice to the richness that can be found within original papers and publications. I intend to expand further in future on my initial research.

It is clear that from its beginnings, the Institute has played a key role in championing professional qualifications.

One of the aims of the founders of the IPR in 1948 was the institution of examinations for new entrants seeking to make a post-war career in the relatively new field of PR.

The IPR founders intended that education would contribute towards establishing PR as a profession. The first six candidates were awarded a diploma in 1958. Last week, a further 150 committed professionals became #CIPRQualified. My calculations suggest that to date around 12,000 qualifications awards have been made by IPR (now the Chartered Institute of Public Relations).

Whilst, education has been a constant thread in the Institute’s history, this has been entwined with resistance. This meant that the focus in 1958 was more on personality than professionalism; on being the “right” kind of person. Over time, this changed to education based on competence gained from studying and applying a robust body of knowledge and evidence-based practice.

In 2018, the value of the CIPR’s professional qualifications lies not in assessing personal qualities of individuals but in supporting their professional development, career advancement and strategic contribution in the workplace.

Looking forwards, the challenge remains to encourage more practitioners to become CIPR qualified and realise the benefits this delivers to themselves, their employers and the wider PR profession.

Further details of the CIPR’s current suite of professional qualifications can be found via: