Recently, Erik interviewed Merrick Preti, our new employee here at Array Digital. In this episode, Erik shares how important to hire english majors.
Erik J. Olson (00:01):
What’s happening. This is Erik J. Olson. I am interviewing a new employee for this episode of Journey to $100 Million. So today I have with me, Merrick Preti Hey Merrick.
Merrick Preti (00:13):
Erik J. Olson (00:14):
How you doing?
Merrick Preti (00:16):
I’m good. How are you?
Erik J. Olson (00:17):
Good, good. So, uh, me’s been with us for about a month. Something like that.
Merrick Preti (00:26):
We’re getting close.
Erik J. Olson (00:27):
We’re getting close to that. We’re closer in, in a month time flies, so, well, Merrick why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and, um, you know, kind like your background and how you ended up here at Array Digital.
Merrick Preti (00:39):
Yeah. Um, so I started, uh, at undergrad at the University of Virginia studying English, which was not my intent when I went to college. Uh, and then it became my intent. And then I decided, well, I don’t wanna join the real world, so I’m gonna keep going to school. <laugh> and that’s what I did.
Erik J. Olson (01:00):
So I, what was your, what was your intent? You said English. Wasn’t the intent.
Merrick Preti (01:04):
I started college with. I wanted to be a biochemistry major.
Erik J. Olson (01:10):
Merrick Preti (01:11):
And then I took college level chemistry, Uhhuh <affirmative> and I decided that was not what I could do. That was not one of my skill sets.
Erik J. Olson (01:20):
Merrick Preti (01:20):
Erik J. Olson (01:22):
You and me? Both. So, uh, chemistry was the one subject where I was like, this is ridiculous. Like there’s no rules at all. You just have to like, just straight up memorize thousands of combinations of elements and what they make. I didn’t like that. Cause I’m a math guy, you know, once I figure out the pattern, it doesn’t matter what numbers you throw at me. I can just stick it in the pattern
Merrick Preti (01:44):
And see, I enjoyed math, but college level math, just, it went too fast. It, I it’s fun when you understand it and it clicks, but they don’t give you the time for that.
Erik J. Olson (01:55):
Yeah. Well see, I, I thought it went too far, very hypothetical and uh, higher level math and uh, I was like, yeah, I’ll, I’ll definitely never use this. Gimme a break. I can vectors and differential equations. Yeah. That’s not gonna be me. So <laugh> well, what, what about English? Does English go too fast or too far?
Merrick Preti (02:18):
No, I, I love English. There are certain aspects of like literature that I don’t like, because it’s just, you see it repetitive over and over and over again. And it’s just like, okay, I don’t wanna learn that. Let’s go find a new curriculum, but English to me doesn’t get boring. You know, books never get boring. There’s always a new story. And UN unlike math, there are no pattern. Well, there are patterns cuz there are tropes, but every book feels different
Erik J. Olson (02:44):
Now you’re, we’ll get to what an English major is doing here at a digital marketing agency in a second. But let’s, let’s, let’s talk about where you’re at in your past. So yeah. Can you explain like how much schooling you’ve had and, and what’s ahead of you?
Merrick Preti (02:56):
Yeah. So I’ve up to this point had seven years, eight years. Eight years. No, yeah. Four plus three seven. See, I’m not a math person. I’ve had seven years of school, uh, four in undergrad and then I went to do three for my masters of fine arts out in the middle of the country. And then I am now going off to Georgia state to be a PhD candidate. So very cool. Four to five, four to five more years of school.
Erik J. Olson (03:24):
Yeah. I don’t know. Four or five years of additional schooling is cool, but it’s cool. You’re going for your PhD. So congratulations on that.
Merrick Preti (03:30):
Erik J. Olson (03:32):
All right. So we are recording this on June 9th, 2022. This is an internship for you here at Ray digital. So we’ve got you for another two months or so two and a half months maybe at, at, at the most. What have you been up to? What what’s an English major doing here at a digital marketing agency?
Merrick Preti (03:53):
Never would’ve thought I’d fit in here, but it’s, it’s amazing. It’s actually a perfect fit for English majors and highly organized people. Uh, if you’re not organized, this is you’d get messed up real quick. Uh it’s it’s fantastic. I mean, it’s a lot of research, heavy work and English majors are perfect for that because you’re writing papers. You have to do that research anyway. It’s just a different form. You’re taking everything you’ve learned in undergrad of how to research and how to ask those questions and how to answer them. And you’re applying it the same way when you’re doing keyword research. When you’re writing content briefs, when you’re editing, I mean you have to edit papers before you submit them in for assignments. And there are a lot of articles that need to be edited every month as uh, as Kayla has informed me.
Erik J. Olson (04:44):
Yep. Yep. So, uh, so for those that aren’t familiar with, what Merrick is referring to is, um, we, we have a content department here to Ray digital. So we produce a ton of content every single month for our clients, for ourselves as well. Uh, and in particular for search engine optimization. So one of the tenants of SEO is that, uh, you need content on a webpage. You need words on a webpage that Google’s gonna come and look at and put into their database and they do what’s called indexing so that when you go to Google and you search for a particular term, they find out what webpages basically match. And they do that based on words. So those words have to be created. So Eric, you know, one, one of the challenges that we had early on was that we would as, as like web developers, we would build a website and it would have, uh, maybe pictures in there and it would have the, uh, warm ipsum, you know, like the, uh, the Latin, like placeholder text, maybe that came with a template or something or a we’d stick it in there, but it was always a challenge for us to create those words in the beginning.
Erik J. Olson (05:55):
And then we would delegate that to the clients and we’d say, all right, clients, what, what words do you want here in this particular section? How do you think our clients did as far as creating that content?
Merrick Preti (06:09):
I mean, they did because they know what they want. So they, they created it for readability, but not for what Google wants and there needs to be a healthy balance for it.
Erik J. Olson (06:19):
Yeah. So you’re, yeah, you’re correct. They know what they want, but they don’t know how to say it. Right. And that’s where like your content briefs come in. So, uh, to, for the audience, uh, content brief is, is, um, it’s basically like an abstract or like a summary in its direction to the person who’s gonna do the actual long format piece. So let’s say I’m just gonna make up numbers here. Let’s say it’s like a two page long document that says, all right, here’s a target audience. Here’s what the audience is interested in. Uh, here are some keywords you should go after here’s some points that you should hit. And then that gets handed off to the actual writer. And then they’ll turn that two pages into 10 pages, right. Long format. But the briefs are really good because like I can come to hum Ric and be like, Hey, I, I wanna, I want a piece for our website that talks about, uh, our Spanish translation services.
Erik J. Olson (07:15):
And I know that, I know, I know I want it for Spanish translation, but, um, I may know like five or six key points that I want to hit, but I, I can’t like expand on that. And that’s where it’s like really, really, really helpful for you to come in, by the way our clients did a terrible job. Not because they’re bad riders, but because they’re busy. And so it would take one months, two months, 12 months, 24 months, it would take forever for them to get us the content. And usually we would just get tired of waiting and we’d wing it and put something out there that wasn’t quite right. So it’s really, really nice to have you Kayla and the whole content process in place it’s been really, really helpful. What do you think about SEO?
Merrick Preti (07:55):
I had never heard of the term before two months ago. <laugh> uh, I didn’t understand it at all. It is such a cool concept though. And it does make sense. So that’s the nice part, but yeah, they don’t tell you and it’s perfect for English and they don’t tell you anything about it. It’s just cuz Google changes so fast. But I had never heard of the term before two months ago.
Erik J. Olson (08:21):
That’s wild. So I, I, I think you’re absolutely right. I think it is perfect for English majors and folks that are, you know, writers. Um, and it’s frankly, something that we just kind of stumbled across over the last couple of years, uh, after, like I said, struggling with how to get those words on a webpage. So, um, maybe, uh, maybe you could do your, uh, what what’s what’s the paper called is a thesis.
Merrick Preti (08:48):
My dissertation. Yes.
Erik J. Olson (08:49):
Your dissertation thesis is for master’s right?
Merrick Preti (08:53):
I believe so. And undergrad, I wish it was another thesis.
Erik J. Olson (08:57):
So let’s, let’s do the dissertation on, uh, SEO best practices. You, you could use us as your Guinea pig. How about that?
Merrick Preti (09:07):
Exactly, exactly. It would be a great conference paper to take to conferences for sure.
Erik J. Olson (09:12):
Uh, yeah. Yeah, definitely. And you know, it’s, it’s, it is interesting that you say that it’s perfect for English majors because, um, I, I think that they could really benefit from a career in content and, and SEO. There’s a huge need for it. And for those that are, um, I guess astute enough to, to realize that there’s a connection between, you know, content and writers and, and search engine optimization and the benefits that brings for businesses. I am surprised that it’s not a known thing in the like English academic world that, that there’s this demand for those services. So maybe you can bring that back to academia, let them know,
Merrick Preti (09:59):
Oh, the chair of my department before I left my program, cuz he was just asking what we were doing for the summer. I told him and he goes, can you, can you gimme a job description on that? I want, I want the undergrads to know that these things exist.
Erik J. Olson (10:12):
That’s great. Sounds like, yeah. I, I would be very interested actually in, in getting to meet more undergrads, English majors, people who wanna write, um, we all source a lot of that, but I think it would’ve make a lot of sense to have it in house. So like in-house just for everyone’s benefit is um, where, where we, where we come up with the direction, those briefs, do the research and then tell the writers what to do. But a lot of the actual long format writing is done by like Lance writers. Uh, it would be good to have them in-house although the, the freelancers are amazing. They do really, really good work, but there’s a place there’s definitely a place for, for riders in the digital agency world. So, well, I appreciate you coming on. I appreciate you spending your summer with us. Has it been enjoyable?
Merrick Preti (11:02):
Yeah. I’ve learned every day I’m learning something new, which is fantastic. I just didn’t think that it feels like there’s just everything. There’s always something new to learn each day,
Erik J. Olson (11:13):
Which is what’s cool about digital marketing, right? Cause it’s a, it is an everchanging landscape. And just when you figured when, just when you think you figured out something like Google, they make a huge change constantly. So it, it keeps you on your toes for sure. So, all right, Merrick. Appreciate your time.
Merrick Preti (11:33):
Thank you. Bye. Have a good one. Bye.