Jason Kincaid

Happily fallen tech blogger. Now: writing, consulting & taking guitar lessons.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 26, 2015


Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
Howdy folks! You may know me from my time as a senior reporter at TechCrunch, where I wrote over 3,000 posts and hosted several video series, including TC Cribs and OMG/JK. Or maybe you saw me bellowing DISSSRUPT — *crickets* — on HBO’s Silicon Valley (major déjà vu, as I emcee the Disrupt conference IRL too). Hey, that rhymed! I also wrote a book called The Burned-Out Blogger’s Guide to PR. If you're curious about tech PR, or startup life in general — or you have a book report due and need to find a super-quick read — I highly recommend it. Suggested areas of inquiry: tech, PR, writing, self-publishing, science (majored in biology with a minor in GATTACA), marijuana, karaoke, comedy, music, life as a millennial. You can invoke a rant using the syntax "rant TopicName", where TopicName belongs to a confidential and proprietary set of topics in accordance with AAP guidance. (But try me.)
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@jasonkincaid Thanks for joining us today! I'd be curious to know what mistakes do you see most companies make in regards to working with journalists? And what would be your advice to people who are trying to build build strong relationships with journalists? Bonus round: what is your favorite cliche about millennials?
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@corleyh Most common mistake is people who send cold pitches and expect them to go anywhere (sometimes they do, but you’d better have a really compelling pitch, because you’re going to be competing with folks who have warm intros and established relationships with reporters). Building relationships is a weird topic; reporters are used to having people try to ingratiate themselves, so they generally have ‘shields up’. But if you go to cocktail hours/pitchoffs and become a familiar face (and aren’t always talking about work), then maybe you’ll become friendly acquaintances. Also (and please: tread super lightly here), the real secret to getting reporters to like you is to help them with stories. Maybe this entails giving them on-background info, maybe it’s leaking stuff. But this is dangerous territory; please don’t run off and start dishing secrets (I talk more about this in my PR book — plug! — http://www.amazon.com/The-Burned...
Anwaar Ansari@anwaaramjad · Student
@jasonkincaid Thanks for doing this AMA! How was your experience working with TechCrunch and what were the best things you learned while working there?
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@anwaaramjad When I first started Nick Gonzalez (who had been a writer before me) likened it to a roller coaster ride, and I thought that was fitting. There were stretches that were among the most stressful of my career, and the workload was nuts at times, but I learned a lot and also benefitted from cranking out words — eventually I became a better writer (my ego would like to remind you that these answers are written with much haste, and should not be considered representative of my finest work). I digress. Most important thing I learned, and it’s something I flash back to a lot, is that behind each of these companies are real people who are doing their best trying to build something they’re proud of. It is easy to be snarky (and it feels good) but even in the case of criticism a touch of humanity goes a long way.
John Exley@johnexley · Sales, Yieldmo
@jasonkincaid Big fan of your work. Thanks for doing the PH Live! So, according to @arrington's farewell blog post (http://uncrunched.com/2012/02/24...), the story of VEVO pirating an NFL game at their Sundance party was the most recent story you broke before you left TC. Given how much you've explored how publishers and platforms monetize content, how users (and sometimes, companies!) pirate premium content, and now your recent experience as an "independent content creator" (if that's an okay description!), do you have any thoughts around YouTube Red and Alphabet's subscription strategy there?
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@johnexley Hey John! I am glad there’s more experimentation here — I don’t buy the idea that folks aren’t willing to pay for content, a lot of the early efforts had cruddy user experiences. People are getting used to content that isn’t laden in advertising and some of them seem willing to pay (also: excited by efforts like Patreon/Drip/etc). That said, I’m not a fan of strong-arming independent artists; we’ll see how Red plays out.
John Exley@johnexley · Sales, Yieldmo
@jasonkincaid thank you, agree 100%! Love the Patreon example.
JJ Tang@jjrichardtang
Hey Jason! :) How were you able to develop creditability at such a young age? Also, what has been the most interesting article you've read recently? Bonus: favourite emoji ;)?
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@jjrichardtang I landed at TechCrunch when I was 22, due to a series of amusing events (recounted here: http://techcrunch.com/2013/02/24... ) The credibility, to the extent that I have it, took awhile -- my first year involved plenty of vaguely condescending interactions with folks I was interviewing (but I can't blame them; I looked even younger than I was and was asking some pointed questions). As I wrote I tried to incorporate balance and nuance, and eventually this helped me establish a reputation for being one of the... less bombastic TechCrunch writers :)
Alex Ye@yerokh1n · Growth Hacker and Digital Marketer
Thanks for doing this AMA. I'd like to know hat is your favourite automation everyday hacks that make your writing easier and more productive? Couple of the hacks will be enough.
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@yerokh1n my 'hack' to the extent that I have one, is to try to write first thing in the morning, before checking Twitter and Email. As soon as I fire those up I get caught in cycles of anxiety/wanting to prove someone on the internet wrong, which is roughly the opposite mentality I need when I'm writing something thoughtful. I really don’t do much in the way of automation, I find that I can spend a ton of time tuning stuff but I’m better off just trying to minimize inbound tasks (and also trying to reduce my compulsions to check Twitter etc).
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@jasonkincaid How were you approached to do Silicon Valley? Any fun stories from the shoot day?
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@russfrushtick I don't know the exact course of events, but there are a few things I can point to. The Silicon Valley folks attended TC Disrupt and saw me there, and I was introduced to them briefly at one of the after-parties, and afterward I got a really warm intro to them. The actual ask came a little out of the blue from one of the producers. Suffice it to say, there was much fist-pumping to be had. And yes, lots of amusing stuff on set. The experience was just surreal - they rebuilt the Disrupt stage in LA using all the real signage, and having Mike Judge ask me questions about authenticity was just nuts. I was also surprised about the way Hollywood trailer toilets work. They are more manual than I expected.
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
Hey @jasonkincaid - I just ordered your book and really hope I'm not in it. I represent a lot of business men and women, entrepreneurs, journalists, etc in the tech sphere. I actually find that tech writers are a lot more receptive to pr reps than folks in other fields. For the most part, are we helpful to your work as a journalist?
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@jeffumbro I think there can be a symbiotic relationship between PR folks and reporters — sometimes even resulting in high quality stories. But a lot of tech reporters are lazy and want stories handed to them on a silver platter, which is perhaps one reason you see them being more receptive to pitches (this is not necessarily a reflection of the reporters as people, but of the way these publications work. Cranking out blog posts can be soul crushing). There are good PR people, and mediocre PR people, and a few bad eggs who give the rest a bad name. If you’re doing solid business I wouldn’t worry too much about being in the latter camp. In general, just remember that reporters are people and that every annoyance you impose on them (e.g. cold-calls) adds to a large heap of other folks doing the same (and rationalizing their own behavior).
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hey Jason! Thanks for joining us today! What are have been your, proudest, funniest and most surprising moments in your career to date? (Can be three separate things).
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@ems_hodge Proudest — There are several big stories that I’m proud of. But I think in general, I’m proud that I tried to advocate on behalf of users (e.g. when Facebook did something obnoxious, I called them out on it regularly). I think there should be more of that in the tech press. Also I'm pretty proud of writing, editing, and self-publishing my book. Learned a lot! Funniest - Getting punked by Facebook (they launched a feature called ‘Facebook Fax’ to ONLY techcrunch reporters; it let you fax photos to people and actually worked). I made my debut in the SF Chronicle the next day as the reporter who had covered a feature that "doesn't exactly exist".
Kristofer™@kristofertm · #7 Product Hunter. E-Skateboard fanatic
@jasonkincaid What's your favorite song to play on the guitar?
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@kristofertm Bold as Love, as covered by John Mayer (originally by Jimi Hendrix). Work in progress!
Tech Minds@techminds
@jasonkincaid What do you think of Product Hunt? Thanks.
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@techminds I find cool stuff here! I try not to check too many sites compulsively, so I probably don't account for a large percentage of the site's traffic, but I keep an eye on their email notifications for new products, especially the new apps for writers. And this AMA has been a lot of fun!
David Turner@dturneresq · RSA Fellow
Rant: Hoverboards and Self Lacing Shoes, #bttf day - hype or seriously important cultural milestone?
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@dturneresq Self-lacing shoes: this would have solved a lot of issues for me in my earlier years, so I am a big supporter (also: super cool, because they actually appear to work). But those Segway things should not be called Hoverboards any more than Teslas should be called flying cars. Marketing BS. In general I love Back to the Future (I and II in particular…) and attended a screening on BTTF day. It’s been a long time since I saw it and it was pretty extraordinary how good a job they did making the idea of different space/time continuums accessible (I do not know what I am talking about here, btw).
Andrew Cove@aac · Chief pitch deck reviewer at Deck.vc.
@jasonkincaid let's say you're planning a night of karaoke and marijuana with your buddies. you've got a pretty amazing story to tell them involving a cute girl, a strange bed, and some dog piss, but you want to make sure it gets some serious traction with their humor receptors. what strain should you smoke before telling them all the soggy details?
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@aac What an oddly specific inquiry (but one that sounds quite entertaining). Blue Dream seems a sound choice. It’s one of the most popular strains — sativa dominant so folks will be awake, but not so much so that they’ll be paranoid.
John Exley@johnexley · Sales, Yieldmo
@jasonkincaid If you don't mind someone asking two questions (aka, me!), any podcasts that you regularly enjoy and would recommend?
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@johnexley Oh yeah, big time. You Made it Weird With Pete Holmes -- Casual philosophical mindfucks Tuner -- Deconstructing songs, super interesting (a new one) Intelligence Squared (U.S.) -- Oxford style debates on a range of newsworthy subjects Cntl Walt Delete -- Really enjoying this one. Mossberg has some great insight/stories.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Thanks for being here @jasonkincaid !! It was a pleasure having you on the LIVE Chat today 😻
Jason Kincaid@jasonkincaid
@jacqvon Thanks for having me! Thanks to everyone for their questions!
Omkar_Bhosale@obthinks · Blogger
Hi Jason! I'm quite late in Startup and Tech news space, but after lot of searching in Tech News Area I found that TechCrunch was leading in 2005-2010 and you were the one of the important movers in TC. I mean 2k, that crazy. Can you tell me, what was your usual process to cover any story? (like doing pre-research, confirming the tip using phone call or email, etc)... was there any pattern or procedure you followed? Thank you for the AMA... (I'm still reading your old articles ;-) )