TWIC 2021: Stacie Tursi – Senior Vice President, Local & Digital Sales, National CineMedia (NCM)

By | September 30, 2021 4:57 pm PDT

This post is part of CJ’s Top Women In Global Cinema 2021 – Redux.

How have your role, position and responsibilities changed since you were first nominated for Top Women in Cinema?

I am still here and intend to stay for some time. I have been in the industry for 22+ years and could not be more excited about our recovery and future growth. The COVID pandemic required me to wear many hats, in addition to my full-time job, but the overall roles/responsibilities have not changed. I think what did change in 2020 was the call to abandon the “strategy” ship and, instead, focus on survival, survival as an industry, as a company and as individuals.

How did COVID affect you and your business personally?

It was a very tough year all the way around. Pandemic burnout is a real thing; professionally and personally. I feel it, our employees feel it, and our clients feel it. I think most people want and need a sense of purpose and when that purpose is diminished, we feel lost (and exhausted). Our challenge (and opportunity) moving forward will be to ask, “What have we learned?” – and how we can apply that learning and be more innovative in our approach to restoring and growing the business.

How did your role, position, and responsibilities change (if at all) during the pandemic? Can you tell us a little bit about what your days were like and what you were doing over the past year?

I wore (and continue to wear)…….SO. MANY. HATS.

When we had to pivot from our planned business strategy to survival mode, it was imperative that I (and everyone) take on both the big and small tasks, including:

  1. Model optimism: keeping spirits up in the middle of a great deal of uncertainty was a delicate balance between genuinely conveying positivity and acknowledging the real struggle.
  2. Communicate a clear purpose: the most important factor to impact the team’s success; especially when we were talking about and making tough decisions.
  3. Build unity and commitment within the team: the team’s well-being was (is) a top priority. Without the team, recovery, stability, and growth is impossible.

With furloughs and/or reduced hours for most roles, including mine, I covered many other day-to-day functions in addition to my own role & responsibility. It was important for all of us to do whatever necessary to keep the ship afloat.

Do you think COVID will change the cinema business? If so, how?

Of course. We have already seen changes in release windows, SVOD, shifting movie slate, studio ownership, etc. In our business, we have also pivoted to include more products for our clients, including new NCM and Noovie digital products and a growing NCM Digital Out Of Home (DOOH) network that further unites brands with movie audiences beyond theaters in a variety of complementary venues like restaurants and retail locations.

Evolution is not a bad thing. We will be forced to be more innovative in developing business strategy, and agile when circumstances change.

For me, this is the most exciting part! And the best path to recovery, stability, and growth.

How do you believe the cinema industry can recover once audiences are able to visit movie theatres again?

In January 2021, McKinsey published an article called, “The next normal arrives: Trends that will define 2021—and beyond”. In it, they write, “as consumer confidence returns, so will spending, with “revenge shopping” sweeping through sectors as pent-up demand is unleashed. That has been the experience of all previous economic downturns. One difference, however, is that services have been particularly hard hit this time. The bounce back will therefore likely emphasize those businesses, particularly the ones that have a communal element, such as restaurants and entertainment venues”.

I firmly believe this to be true, and our own Behind the Screens research shows that attendance is on the rise. Once new content arrives, audiences will come.

I think the exhibitors need to make certain that local communities know they are open and their environment is safe. This message cannot be overstated for moviegoers: communicate, communicate, communicate.

What do you like most about working in the cinema industry? What is one of your fondest memories?

What I love most about the cinema industry is talking about movies with anyone/everyone. While so many topics today are considered taboo, movies are the great equalizer. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can’t name a favorite movie (or two or three).

And it doesn’t stink when you attend an industry event, like CinemaCon, and you find yourself in an elevator with Charlize Theron. A fond memory for me.

Nice work if you can get it!


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