Leyla Turkkan Relaunching Set To Run Communications

Set To Run Communications, the public relations firm that made its name representing the likes of the Beastie Boys, Public EnemyDavid Bowie, Slayer, A Tribe Called Quest and The Cure, among others, is relaunching under the direction of its founder, Leyla Turkkan. The company shuttered in 1992 when Turkkan left to accept a role at Columbia Records. In the following years, she held senior posts at Atlantic Records, EMI subsidiary The Enclave, Rush Communications, BET and her most recent role, founder of PR/marketing firm The Catalyst Group, where she has focused on nonprofit work for the past several years. 

"Music is a very big part of my life -- it's something I had to go back to," she says of her decision to revive the firm. "We started the first 'new media' department at a record label when I was with Atlantic, and obviously the business has figured out how to embrace and integrate it. Having so many platforms to work with is very exciting: It gives us the opportunity to build so many stories around artists. Creating narratives is really important, and now we have multiple ways to do it."

The company's first client is former Tribe Called Quest MC Q-Tip, who has a new album due in 2016. More acts will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Turkkan has assembled a diverse team to join the venture, including senior members Jamie Roberts, a veteran of Roadrunner and Universal Records; and Perry Serpa, formerly of Nasty Little Man and his own Good Cop PR. More staffers are expected to be announced before the end of the year. 

"I'm very focused on creating a team," Turkkan says. "You have to surround yourself with people who have different points of view and who know more than you do in different areas. The only way I could set this up was by bringing in such talented people, and we’ll be growing into areas beyond music: corporate, tech, and lifestyle."

In its prime, Set to Run was one of the rare PR firms that worked with hip-hop and rock artists. "We started the company with Public Enemy and ['80s alt-rock act] Throwing Muses," Turkkan recalls. "They had almost nothing in common except that they were both fringe artists at the time. Eventually, we moved into a big, open office, and I remember the B-52s and A Tribe Called Quest being in there at the same time. It was great to see how they interacted and checked out each others’ clothes and things like that -- it was wonderful to watch that cross-pollenation occur." 

As for her decision to revive the long-dormant Set to Run name, she says, "I kept thinking of other names, and every time I went to someone with a suggestion, they'd say, "Why don’t you just call it Set To Run? It's a strong brand and people have positive associations with it."