Welcome to ‘On The Record’ with YAP Global. A series where we speak to the journalists behind the stories that keep you up-to-date on the pulse of the digital asset, fintech, blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.
This week we were lucky enough to get to know Rachel Wolfson, who The Next Web picked as one of the top 5 women working to change the world of crypto. Alongside her work as a reporter at CoinTelegraph where she specialises in enterprise blockchain adoption, Rachel is the host of the Crypto Chick podcast. She has previously written for HuffPost, Bitcoin Magazine and Forbes, and moderated panels at some of the biggest blockchain and crypto events in the world.
Rachel tells us why themes such as inclusion and diversity are an important aspect of conferences and why Zoom meetings could never replace speaking or moderating panels on a live stage in front of an audience.
Tell us a bit about your background and your foray into the blockchain and crypto space?
“I started writing about blockchain in 2017, after a friend passed along a white paper from a company using blockchain for supply chain management. I was instantly fascinated about the capabilities of the technology, from its potential to transform data sharing for enterprises to its use in the payments space.
I started writing about blockchain for HuffPost, eventually becoming a staff writer for Bitcoin Magazine and a contributor for Forbes. Currently, I am a reporter for Cointelegraph.
Although my focus has been on blockchain for the past three years, I have been covering the tech space for over 10 years. I got my start in Tel Aviv as a content marketing manager for a big data startup. When I moved to San Francisco, I started working as a content marketing manager for a DevOps startup. I eventually left the startup world and have been a reporter for various publications ever since.”
You’re a jack of all trades having dabbled in journalism, public speaking and podcasting. Tell us a bit about your current role at CoinTelegraph and what other projects you’re working on?
“Yes, I have done quite a bit since I entered the blockchain space in 2017. Once my writing became more known, I began speaking about blockchain at various events around the world. I also started my own podcast (part of The Bad Crypto podcast), The Crypto Chick, in 2018.
I began writing for Cointelegraph in November of last year. I started as a full-time news writer, but decided I was better suited as a report who covers in-depth stories. I prefer taking the time to interview individuals pioneering in the space, rather than writing quick stories based off press releases. So far I have really enjoyed writing for Cointelegraph, as the publication is a leader in the blockchain and crypto space for news coverage.
Although I am primarily focused on reporting for Cointelegraph, I do have plans to write a book on enterprise blockchain.”
The Next Web named you as one of the top five women working to change the world of crypto and you’ve been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine as an influential woman in blockchain. What is it that inspires you most about this industry?
“Like so many others, I believe blockchain is the next big innovation in technology. Just as the internet opened doors for various forms of communication, blockchain will do the same for data sharing and the future of payments. While the technology in itself is inspiring, the people in this space are also incredible. I’ve met some of the smartest people I know from the blockchain and crypto community and these people continue to inspire me daily. It’s amazing that I get so many opportunities to speak directly to the people innovating in the blockchain space. They are the ones changing the world.”
You’ve moderated panels at some of the biggest blockchain and crypto events in the world. What’s been your favourite conference so far and why?
“Hyperledger Global Forum 2020 was the most recent conference I attended. I really enjoyed this conference because the focus was purely on enterprises using blockchain to transform a number of industries. For instance, IBM’s Food Trust Network is powered by Hyperledger Fabric, which allows the network to trace and track food supply chains (one of the most interesting use cases for blockchain). Another reason I enjoyed attending Hyperledger Global Forum was because the entire theme was based on inclusion and diversity. It was refreshing to see both women and men speakers discussing enterprise blockchain. I also enjoyed the icebreaker at the pre-event party, which consisted of small groups discussing diverse, influential figures in technology.
Unsurprisingly, South by Southwest has also been one of my favorite conferences. I attended the event in 2018 and 2019. Both times I moderated panels focused on blockchain and enterprise adoption. South by Southwest is great for making connections, as this is where I met blockchain pioneer Caitlin Long and connected with the Bad Crypto crew for the first time, leading to the creation of The Crypto Chick podcast.
Finally, Delta Summit 2018 in Malta was unforgettable. It was during this time that companies and individuals were really getting interested in crypto and blockchain. This conference allowed me to meet some of the very early pioneers in the space, like Roger Ver and Binance CEO CZ. “
What’s the one thing you wish PRs or companies would know when pitching you a story?
“This is a great question. It’s important for PR firms to know that my focus is specifically on enterprise blockchain adoption. Stories that relate to this are the most appealing. I am still learning about the DeFi space, so I am less likely to cover those stories simply because I am not as knowledgeable in that area. I also don’t write about crypto market trends and predictions. I think PR firms assume since I write for Cointelegraph I cover any topic under the sun related to blockchain and crypto, but I don’t, haha! It’s best to look at my column to get a better understanding of the stories I cover before pitching me.”
How has COVID19 impacted the way you work and/ or crypto journalism in general?
“COVID hasn’t had much of an impact on my daily work habit. I’ve worked from home for at least three years now. Many of my interviews take place via zoom or on the phone. I then spend a good amount of time writing the actual stories.
The main difference has been less travel and fewer events, which has been tough. I think a unique feature about me is that I attend events around the world and am able to make in-person connections. This has greatly helped my career, as I feel more comfortable reaching out to personal connections for quotes and commentary. Although events are taking place over zoom, it’s not the same as going to exotic places, meeting new people and speaking or moderating panels on stage in front of an audience.”
Do you think the blockchain and crypto community is inclusive? If not, what can the industry do differently?
“I think the blockchain space is inclusive, but I mainly focus on enterprise. There are still those ‘crypto and blockchain bros’ though who have created a poor image for women in the space. For instance, lavish yacht parties with booth babes is not uncommon in the crypto space. I don’t think that adds much value to the industry as a whole.”
Do you have any tips for beginner writers who want to get into the crypto space but are not sure where to start?
“Even before writing for HuffPost, Forbes and Cointelegraph, I’ve always maintained a blog of some sort. I think if you are passionate about a topic and are determined, finding your voice should be easy.
Prior to writing for these major publications, I reached out to those who could help me get involved. For instance, I started writing for HuffPost by emailing Arianna Huffington directly and letting her know that I wanted an article I wrote about dating in San Francisco published. Surprisingly, she read my article, responded to my email and made me a contributor. I did the same for Forbes — I reached out to an editor who could help me get involved. Once my writing became well known, it was easier to find more opportunities.
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