“The Great Courses has a lot of fans in the media who buy our lectures, but we had never been featured in a major article until we engaged OWC. Having the firm as part of our team allows us to concentrate on what we do best – producing unrivaled lifelong learning content.”

The Great Courses

the challenge

The Great Courses (TGC), the leading producer and developer of premium-quality media for lifelong learning and personal enrichment, launches approximately 50 new courses each year from the world’s top professors and experts with millions of courses sold since 1990. It’s an extremely competitive process to be selected to teach one of the courses, with only one percent of all applicants hired. Each professor credits the TGC process with making them better educators as they hone their presentation skills. Despite TGC’s success, notoriety within academia and uniqueness in the sector – with two production studios that rival any sound stage in Hollywood – the company had never had a major feature article written about it. More importantly, the company had never initiated a strategic public relations program to leverage partnerships with some of the biggest brands in the country such as National Geographic and tout its achievements through the media.


OWC secured six articles about a new partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, including an Associated Press piece that was picked up in more than 100 publications and a story in the Washington Post. The crowning achievement was a major feature story on the front page of the Arts section in The New York Times. Moving forward, reporters are mentioning TGC courses more and more frequently and depending on executives and professors for interviews that continue to raise both the profile and sales of the company.

“Decades before TED Talks, so-called massive open online courses and YouTube videos made top educators accessible to the masses, the Great Courses built a loyal audience of lifelong learners by making “the world’s greatest professors” available to anyone with a VCR or cassette player. … The company has forged partnerships with the Culinary Institute of America, the Smithsonian Institution and the Mayo Clinic, among others, to produce videos.”

“With youthful features, a blue blazer and khaki slacks, the preppy 36-year-old [Will Schmidt] is director of professor recruiting for the Teaching Company. It is best known for The Great Courses, long-form audio and video lecture series on topics from philosophy and photography to Buddhism and the barbarian empires of the Steppes. The programs are designed to give lifelong learners a continuing education without the classroom time, homework assignments or credits earned. Self-described fans include Bill Gates and George Lucas.”

“The Chantilly, Va.-based company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has begun invitation-only testing of a subscription streaming video-on-demand service that includes 5,000 of its most popular lectures from its library of more than 14,000 lectures. Scheduled to go live this fall, The Great Courses Plus gives subscribers access to individual lectures from the educational firm’s 7,000 hours-plus of content.”