Reflections from PRSA ICON 2022 International Conference

As a content tech company, we have always been closer to Public Relations (PR) industry but it is only recently that we attended our first major PR conference in the United States. As a first, PRSA Icon 2022 was really special. Incidentally, it was also a special year for PRSA, celebrating their 75th anniversary! The conference was held from Nov. 13 – 15, 2022 at Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine, Texas, and it was a whirlwind in all the best ways!  

Ninestars team included Mohan Doshi, Chief Strategy Officer of Ninestars Global; Dimitar Mitrev, Managing Director of Ninestars Bulgaria, and Galina Tsankova and Anton Chikakchiev, both senior account managers at Ninestars Bulgaria. We met some old friends, made a lot of new ones, networked with the exhibitors, attended insightful sessions, learned from influential keynote speakers such as Kathy Kay, Emmett Smith, Marlee Marlin, Anthony D’Angelo, and many more and in the true spirit of Texas, witnessed some incredible dancing.

Muck Rack was the titanium sponsor, and together with Amazon, Cision, and PRophet made sure that all participants felt well cared for. Muck Rack stole the show by organizing portrait sketches breaking the ice at a welcome cocktail.  

Our team presented our tech and analytical skills, specifically our expertise in Boolean creation and refinement, proficient use of media listening tools, and our ability to pull meaningful and actionable insights. Ninestars is partnering with several PR organizations as their content transformation and PR analysis partner, catering to the unique needs of each of its customers in any of the 30+ languages it supports in-house. These services are built on custom requirements from clients but still come at a fraction of the internal cost.  

Our services include document mining and extraction, editorial services, taxonomy-based information indexing/tagging, human review of AI-based coding/indexing, sentiment analysis, query translation and localization, adverse events reporting, influencers identification, benchmarking, and tracking, brand/product reputation analysis, and more. We loved talking to the PR professionals about the value addition that our team could bring to their organizations in measurement and the creation of winning brand positioning strategies.  

Thank you, PRSA and all delegates for the amazing experience, and we are already looking forward to seeing you at ICON 2023 in Nashville next year.   

Ethereum Merge explained: what you need to know

“Ethereum Mainnet Merge Viewing Party” on YouTube was watched by 41,000 people when The Merge took place. People with bated breath watched the show with festivity, food, drinks and Merge talk! 

Ethereum, outranked only by Bitcoin, is a blockchain best known for its cryptocurrency, ether (ETH), and its programmable capability. As a much-discussed and long-hyped event in the cryptocurrency community, the Merge represents a fundamental shift in the operation of the Ethereum blockchain.

What is the “Merge” and when did it happen? 

Touted as one of the most substantial events for the cryptocurrency industry, the Merge is a tech upgrade which was executed on September 15, 2022. The Ethereum network moved from the energy-intensive “Proof-of-work” protocols to “proof-of-stake” protocols. With this upgrade, the energy consumption of Ethereum reduced by a whopping ~99.95%.

Why is it called a Merge?

From a technical perspective, Merge is a two-step process as a merger of the current Ethereum Mainnet and the Beacon Chain proof-of-stake system. Beacon Chain was successfully launched in 2020. The second step was the actual transition to proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus while officially deprecating proof-of-work (PoW). 

What is PoW and PoS and how is it significant? 

Proof-of-Work or PoW and Proof-of-Stake or PoS are both consensus mechanisms that are used in distributed networks to keep them secure. 

In PoW, securing and validating a block is done by miners (computer graphic cards solving complex mathematical algorithms), in exchange for rewards and transaction fees. Since a lot of gas is required to issue new blocks, this model has been criticized for its enormous energy consumption.

In PoS, the network is secured by validators who stake their crypto assets as collateral and earn a reward. With this model, power consumption decreases dramatically since there is very little computation required. PoS also offers lower barrier to entry.

The Merge and energy consumption

After switching its consensus algorithm to PoS, the Ethereum blockchain has reduced its energy consumption and decreased its carbon footprint approximately by 99.99% each transitioning into an eco-friendly consensus model. Ben Edgington, Product Owner for Teku, an Ethereum 2.0 client, emphasized the beneficial environmental impact of Merge’s upgrade. “I feel very proud that we will be able to look back and say I’ve had a role to play in removing a megaton of carbon from the atmosphere every week. That’s something that meaningfully affects my family and others”.

How does the Merge affect the Ethereum ecosystem?

Ethereum users don’t need to update their wallets or funds since the wallet works the same way as they did pre-Merge. Even with the new consensus mechanism, the genesis remains intact and unaltered by the transition to proof-of-stake. However, the Merge does affect miners, node operators, and developers since they will have to familiarize themselves with changes in both the execution layer and the consensus layer.

What are the risks and flaws of the Ethereum Merge?

Any technology changes comes with its own set of problems and Merge is no exception. One of the major concerns regarding the Merge is that of centralization since it may increase the concentration of power within the network. With PoS, staking is required to earn interest on one’s ETH holdings, which could lead to situations where people who cannot afford to stake are priced out of market defeating the entire purpose of decentralization. Ethereum has also warned its users to be wary of scammers after the Merge. 

Ethereum After the Merge

According to Ethereum’s co-creator, Vitalik Buterin, “this is the first step in Ethereum’s big journey toward being a very mature system, but there are still steps left to go. The next main area of our focus now is solving scalability issues”.

Key Takeaways and Recollection: WAN-IFRA World News Media Congress 2022

Ninestars took part in the World News Media Congress 2022 in Zaragoza between 28-30 September, 2022. The three-day congress with thought leaders, international speakers, and industry colleagues was a truly enriching experience. We are glad to carry home some amazing insights, idea-provoking concepts and fond memories. 

The main theme of the Congress this year revolved around Press Freedom, Reinventing Newsrooms, and Publishing Strategies to innovation and transforming media organisations. With over 1200 attendees, 120 speakers from 75 nations and several special events, the Congress provided a global perspective on the industry. 

It was exhilarating to be a part of the summit with all the decision-makers of the industry where we had a chance to learn and share our knowledge with the industry.

An array of topics was covered in the three days of Congress. The topics ranged from reflecting on the past learnings to build more sustainable future for the industry, rebuilding trust in journalism and the necessity to fight for press freedom, how to tap unserved audiences, and new ways to grow digital revenue.

One topic that had our attention captivated was web3, since Ninestars has been working towards building a unique platform based on blockchain for publishers. Web3 is where we are headed and it is an immense joy to know that a lot of our industry colleagues shared our enthusiasm. At our booth, we saw a lot of footfall of people who were interested to know more about how blockchain and NFT could be implemented in the content world.

It was great learning from some of the industry experts like Gary Liu, who emphasized the importance for media organizations to adopt web3, and to engage Gen Z and beyond. On that note, he mentioned the implementation of blockchain for South China Morning Post and also presented different case studies on NFT. An insightful presentation through and through.

Ninestars has participated in WAN-IFRA global event after quite some time and we truly enjoyed reconnecting with our colleagues, meeting publishing partners, and hearing from industry experts.

One of the major highlights for us was meeting with the King of Spain. All of our team members got to meet the King Felipe VI and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Were you at WAN-IFRA Congress this year? What have been your takeaways?

Come meet us at WAN-IFRA Media Congress 2022

Excitement and anticipation are at peaks, as our team gears up for World News Media Congress 2022 from 28-30 September in Zaragoza, Spain.

WAN-IFRA since 1948 has been committed to protecting the rights of publishers and journalists all over the world to operate independent media. They believe their crucial role in the society is to provide expertise and services to their members to innovate and prosper in a digital world.

It is stirring this year to be part of the Congress as we meet delegates from all over the world in person to discuss the future of media, amidst technological disruptions and a volatile economy.

We are particularly excited to present our new concept pitch on PRANA, a content marketplace for Web3. We also have a very relevant offering for media publishers to build and launch media apps in less than two days.

Meet us at booth no. 21, placed right opposite to the conference organizers, the WAN-IFRA lounge. Come be part of our journey.

NFT Culture: Hype or Favourable?

With a hefty $91.8 million price tag, The Merge (collection of art series) is the most expensive NFT sold so far. This series was created by renowned digital artist Pak making him arguably the most valued living digital artist. 

NFT culture survives at the intersection of art, culture, and the blockchain. Investors and collectors seem to be pouring money into non-fungible tokens, tokenizing anything unique as an Ethereum-based asset. In fact, sales are believed to surpass last year’s total by going up to $90 billion by the end of 2022 despite NFT prices seeing a downturn of late.

But what’s really manoeuvring the market and what makes people want to invest millions of dollars in NFTs? 

Getting to know NFT

According to Wikipedia, “A non-fungible token (NFT) is a record on a blockchain which is associated with a particular digital or physical asset. The ownership of an NFT is recorded in the blockchain, and can be transferred by the owner, allowing NFTs to be sold and traded”.

NFT is simply any form of digital asset that symbolizes real-world objects like art (any form), music, in-game items, and videos. They are traded online using mostly cryptocurrencies and they are encoded with blockchain.

Cash (physical money) and cryptocurrencies are “fungible,” meaning they can be exchanged or traded for one another (which defines specific value for specific items). They’re also equal in value: one rupee is always worth another rupee; one Bitcoin is always equal to another Bitcoin. The nature of Crypto’s fungibility makes it a trusted means for carrying out business transactions and administering them on the blockchain.

Even though cryptocurrency and NFT have almost the same encoding software the similarity ends there. Every NFT has a unique digital signature that makes it rather impossible to be exchanged or considered equal (hence, the “non-fungible” moniker). For example, an NBA Top Shot gif is not equal to a cat gif just because they’re both NFTs.  For that matter, even two seemingly similar NBA Top Shot clips aren’t necessarily equal to each other.

But, anyone can view the individual images or even the entire collage of images online for free. So why are people crazily spending millions on something they could easily download, screenshot or just access online?

Because an NFT allows the buyer to own the original item (OG is the new trend!). But that’s not the only reason, NFTs contain built-in authentication, which offers proof of ownership. Collectors and investors value the “digital bragging rights” more than the piece itself (most of the time).

Essentially, NFTs are like physical collector’s items, but only in digital form; i.e., when a collector auctions a painting, instead of getting an actual painting to hang on the wall, the buyer gets a digital file instead. They also get exclusive ownership rights. NFTs work with the concept of ‘one owner at a time’, and their adoption of blockchain technology makes it easy to verify ownership and transfer tokens between the owners. The creator of the art piece can store specific information in an NFT’s metadata in the file, like their signature.

NFTs are offering more power and control to content creators than ever before…

Looking beyond the hype and the price tags; NFTs could represent a huge opportunity in content marketing. Each token has an exclusive and transparent ID which can be used to track and control them. This paves the way for fundamental changes in the relationship between content creator, consumer and brand.

Traditionally after the first sale goes through, the artist or the creator’s journey ends there with their item. Once the art has been sold, the transactions usually end there. The buyers, however, could sell the same work of art again at higher prices if there is demand and if the buyer is willing to sell. However, there is one more way that the non-fungible tokens help the creator and is called ‘NFT Royalties’. NFT royalties give a certain (usually specified) percentage on the sale price every time the NFT creation is sold on a marketplace. These are automatic pay-outs to the author made on repeated sales. The percentage of the royalties are coded into the smart contract on the blockchain of the NFT. Each time a secondary transaction takes place, the encoded smart contract ensures that the terms of the NFT are fulfilled to the dot and the specified cut of the royalty percentage on the sale price goes to the artist who created them. 

This works equally well for digital content, gaming accessories, physical items, real estate etc. NFT royalties are a never-before-opportunity to maximize the earnings of artists and content creators and to give them what is their fair share of profit. 

NFT has the power to triangulate the relationship between artists, collectors, and the brand to create a strong community that benefits all.

We are participating in FIBEP 2022

After more than a decade of working alongside Media Monitoring organizations, we have seen innovation up-close, brought in disruption, and built immense value for the industry. We can say for sure that there’s never been a more exciting time to be working in this industry. This year we take our forever and a day relation with FIBEP a notch higher. We are excited to be the Headline Sponsors’ of FIBEP World Media Intelligence Congress 2022. With that, we are all geared up to be part of this year’s discussions and insights from industry colleagues.

Founded in 1953, FIBEP is a global media intelligence association. Hosted every year, FIBEP World Media Intelligence Congress has become one of the largest congregations of communications, public relations, technology, social media monitoring, and marketing professionals. Best practices, industry developments and innovations, and the latest technologies are discussed and shared in Congress through a range of activities, discussion panels, and presentations.

The theme for the 2022 FIBEP World Media Intelligence Congress to be held in Dublin from 14-16 September 2022 is “Media Intelligence – Insights During Unrest”.

This year our Chief Strategy Officer, Mohan Doshi will be participating in a range of discussions including:

  • Fireside Chat discussing Future Tech Table on September 15, 2022 (Thursday) from 11:40 AM-12:10 PM (GMT+1)
  • Best Practices presenting Business Transformation at Scale on September 16, 2022 (Friday) from 12:15 PM-12:30 PM (GMT+1)

Stop by the Ninestars lounge next to the conference hall and our team will be happy to help you navigate tech-driven solutions that are changing the world of media monitoring. 

We are participating in AMEC 2021 Global Summit

It is with great pleasure that we announce that we are participating in the 2021 AMEC Virtual Global Summit on Measurement: Communication Accountability: Planning, Purpose and Proof. 

AMEC is the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication which is the world’s largest media intelligence and insights professional body, representing organisations and practitioners who provide media evaluation and communication research.

The two-day summit scheduled on May 26 – 27 is a great opportunity to immerse in the world of communication measurement and evaluation. It features inspiring keynotes and informative spotlight sessions from a line-up of international speakers and offer countless opportunities to connect virtually with industry leaders and influencers. 

Ninestars is participating as a Gold Sponsor and we would also be showcasing our content intelligence SaaS platform, PRANA, through our virtual booth. 

A quick note on PRANA. It is an AI-driven ESP (Event Stream Processing) platform that help derive actionable real-time insights from diverse content sources. Architected on high compute and stream processing engineering principles, PRANA is built to manage scale , processing thousands of feeds every second. It has flexible touch-points to compliment and seamlessly integrate with client’s ecosystem. PRANA offers a unique proposition with its AI-HI model (AI-enabled Human Intelligence), which ensures continuous learning and high accuracy for near real-time intelligence and analysis on bespoke dashboards. 

Even though we love the chance to meet and greet our visitors in person, this year we will use our virtual booth to meet you. Our team will be available to discuss any requirement in media content analysis, intelligence or services that could add value to your business. 

To access the virtual exhibition, make sure you register here :

Browse through our solutions and latest innovations here:

The National Archives of India is all set for Digital Transformation

In an increasingly tech-driven world, governments across the globe are looking for ways to hold on to the modicum of the past to preserve their heritage. By digitizing records and relics of historic importance, governments can effectively preserve and provide sustainable access to digital records to its citizens.

To ensure longevity of voluminous physical documents in its custody and to provide quicker access to archive records (a process that currently can take up to a month), the National Archives of India (NAI)  has decided to digitize its documents in a phased manner. Out of the total archive of nearly 18 crore pages, about 4 crore 50 lakh pages will be digitized in the first phase over the next three years. NAI chose Ninestars for this key digitisation project in 2021 through a rigorous tender process.

Established on 11 March, 1891 at Calcutta (Kolkata) as the Imperial Record Department, NAI is the largest archival repository in South Asia containing a wealth of valuable information for historians, officials, and interested citizens. The 125-year-old body is home to priceless articles of Indian history including maps, bills assented to by the President of India, centuries old Buddhist texts, treaties, rare manuscripts, oriental records, official records maintained by the East India Company, private papers, cartographic records, important collection of Gazettes and Gazetteers, Census records, assembly and parliament debates, proscribed literatures, travel accounts, etc. These documents also shed light on the rule of the later Mughals, growth of the East India Company in India, colonial rule in India, Indian freedom struggle and growth and development in post Independent India. Apart from the political and administrative history, the archives at NAI provide information on socio-economic history and the scientific and technological progress of India over the years. These historic titles are of immense value to the nation and the global research community.

In order to broaden access to the Archives’ collections, and reduce the impact of frequent handling of the old or fragile material, Ninestars is helping NAI digitize and maintain their most valuable collections. Ninestars will help create high-resolution surrogates of the Archives’ digitized collections with scanning and enhanced optical character recognition (OCR) for more in-depth analysis. Additionally,  we will help NAI in indexing the digital documents for easy retrieval of information. The digitised files will be uploaded on a DMS (Document Management System) Ninestars will build to make NAI records available on one single, secure platform.  

We are looking forward to an exciting journey of helping The National Archives of India accelerate its digital transformation journey. A new chapter has begun. Here are some glimpses of the project inauguration ceremony. 


By Gopal Krishnan, Chairman, Ninestars

The continued global uncertainty around COVID-19 feels like an elaborate adaptation of a Stephen King novel with the right amount of suspense, horror and drama. By now, we have realized that even the most carefully drafted crisis plans are inadequate. And that there is simply no playbook.

The world is at ‘zero distance’ and our true tenacity is coming to fore.

Work @zero distance: Home is the new office and work-life blend is the new reality. The saved time in commute is going straight into stretched hours at work. Everyone seems to be working 2x.

Family @zero distance: The work pressure combined with challenges at home need to managed. On the bright side, we are spending more time with family. Let’s make the best of it, support each other and come out stronger.

Wellbeing @zero distance: Health, immunity, wellness, spirituality – all are imminent priorities today. Never have I seen such a keen interest in yoga and Ayurveda to tap into inner wellbeing. Wellness sessions streaming live, experts and gurus sharing insights, and a growing digital audience – all at zero distance.

Events @zero distance: With prestigious events and popular shows going virtual, our social and business calendars look very different. Would the zero-distance networking help us keep connected in a world devoid of travel and conversations in person?

Entertainment @zero distance: One of the worst hit industries in the current crisis, the road to survival for entertainment seems digital. Big budget movies are premiering on OTT platforms. The digital content consumption understandably has grown in double digits across channels. The show indeed must go on.

Retail @zero distance: One click to everything on a wishlist. The increasingly seamless, interactive and intuitive experience not just takes the hassle out of shopping but even makes it enjoyable within the comfort of home. Prompted by social distancing, direct to consumers to their doorsteps is growing rapidly even among traditional shoppers.

Home dining @zero distance: Recently I had an exclusive dining experience at home, thanks to a five-star hotel chain in Bangalore. It was an amazing service, from food to hospitality–so signature of the brand–but now served right at my dining table. It was the premium hotel brand’s way of ensuring its valued customer does not miss out on the dining experience. Go where the consumer is, did you say?

Healthcare @zero distance: Your doctor will see you now, online. Telemedicine has been around for a while, but it has pivoted with a new sense of urgency. On-demand healthcare is on the rise and so is the transformation through AI-enabled systems and wearable devices. Add predictive healthcare and blockchain electronic health records, and you start to see the picture.

Sports @zero distance: Stadiums might be empty, but the world of e-sports is buzzing with excitement. We are yet to hear the updates for the year from big-ticket sport event organizers but I’ll not be surprised if they check in to digital arenas.

So, there it is. From work to social life to services we rely on, zero distance is reshaping not just our business but life at large.

COVID-19 – The mother of all disruptions

COVID-19 has disrupted the rhythm of our daily lives and business, bringing some unique challenges. Despite all the challenges, it is my firm belief that when we come out of this crisis and meet on the other side, what will matter most is how we persevered with grace, camaraderie, and compassion. Here is my take on “the mother of all disruptions – COVID-19” #disruptivethinking #disruptions #covid19 #covidkindness # #futurethinking #innovativethinking #businessinnovation #innovationstrategy #valuecreation Ninestars Information Technologies

Written by
Gopal Krishnan, Founder & Chairman, Ninestars


When I am writing this note, COVID-19 has already disrupted our lives on an unprecedented global scale. With more than a million reported cases across countries and nearly 75,000 deaths, COVID-19 has brought the world to a screeching halt. As we go through the throes of the lockdown, the pandemic has pushed the world into a health emergency, showed the cracks in healthcare systems, questioned business models, slowed down the economy, and exposed the vulnerabilities of even developed countries like Italy and the US.

To me,  COVID-19 is the mother of all disruptions. I believe leaders who will rise to the challenge to be resilient and adaptable and won’t let the crisis stop them from moving forward will come out stronger and wiser.

Disruption as an individual

Social distancing has brought forth a lot of anxieties, fear, and uncertainties for all of us. Most of us are facing added pressure from remote working. Instead of being discouraged by the situation, I urge all of you to find ways to manage stress. In my organizations, we have introduced the concept of  5H (Happiness, Health, Habits, Hard work, and Harmony) for WFH where we discuss important elements like happiness and health through virtual sessions on yoga and meditation. With the help of experts, we share techniques and tips to keep anxiety in check. These people connect initiatives that instill in us the power of camaraderie and hope. In these trying times, it is important to practice empathy not just towards others but to ourselves too. Invest time in yourself and emerge as a stronger person when the crisis is over.

Disruption to business

Shortly after the government’s directive to reduce capacity at offices, we rolled out remote working for our staff. What made it possible? Apart from the dedicated effort of our IT infrastructure and administration teams along with the leadership, we have our pioneering effort on workflow automation and cloud infra to thank for. We started on the automation journey much before it became a buzzword in the industry. We have worked systematically, embracing advanced technologies to reach a high percentage of automation, regardless of the diversity or complexity of processes we deal with on a daily basis. Some of our Operations teams work in continuous shifts with extremely tight delivery schedules. These teams are able to continue to deliver customer promise, with minimal interruptions at the beginning of this crisis, due to the technology backbone we have built and continue to make stronger.

However, the crisis is a disruption that would trigger innovation, not just in how we apply technology to deliver better but how we will reshape business models and rethink people engagement. I will not be surprised to see accelerated change, both in small and medium enterprises where change is inevitable and larger businesses who will be forced to rethink priorities.

Disruption on a global front

Upending lives across the globe, shutting down entire cities and countries in a matter of days, only an immediate threat like COVID-19 could bring the world to its knees. With this deep collective vulnerability, it is time to lean on and lift up each other to weather this storm and come out wiser, stronger and kinder than before. Our frontline healthcare practitioners, policymakers, research agencies, private sector, governments at all levels and international organizations will have to work together and reevaluate priorities. If we have to build readiness to manage future health crises, we have to build a new normal in terms of responsive healthcare systems and investments in the right initiatives so that communities worldwide, and not just a privileged few, have access to life-saving measures. If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us how interdependent we really are.

In conclusion

It is not a time to panic but observe caution. Stay strong and invest time in yourself and family. Stay alert and explore new ways to deliver business outcomes. Stay hopeful and build a new world around you.