CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/DAILY MIRROR - The Daily Mirror's Burrell coverage: the anatomy of an exclusive

Paul Burrell, the butler described unerringly as Princess Diana's "rock", has also leapt to the help of the Daily Mirror, supplying ammunition in its bitter circulation war with The Sun.

The Daily Mirror last week won the battle to publish Burrell's exclusive story on his court case, his relationship with Diana and that conversation he had with the Queen.

But was the scoop worth £300,000 and what effect did it have on circulation and advertising?

Piers Morgan, the Daily Mirror's editor, says he expects to add one million newspaper sales across the four days the story ran for (last Wednesday to Saturday). It printed an extra 400,000 copies for the first revelations on Wednesday and sold 330,000 of these. Morgan expected to shift the same number of extra copies on the Thursday with some uplift on the Friday and Saturday.

This represents an extra £200,000 in circulation revenue alone. But Morgan argues that the value of the story goes well beyond this. "We bought the story because I thought it might sell a million newspapers. As a story it's one of the most sensational coups I've been involved in. And it's a story we got for £300,000 when some of our rivals made offers that exceeded £1 million."

Morgan adds that the global syndication rights fetched more than £100,000 and estimates in the first two days of the story running it generated upwards of £2 million in free publicity for the title.

The Daily Mirror won the battle for the Burrell interview because Steve Dennis - "the journalist Paul Burrell REALLY trusts", according to his byline - had built up a strong relationship with the butler over several years. The Daily Mail was also a contender for the scoop as Burrell made his decision, but he decided to go with the Daily Mirror because of the Dennis relationship and because the tabloid agreed to understand his sensitivity over not wanting to dish the full dirt on Di (though, in the end, some of the coverage did dwell on the Princess).

In addition to the temporary circulation increase, Morgan argues that there were other benefits for the Daily Mirror, most importantly reinforcing its brand values. "The new Mirror is only about serious news and you can safely say this story is all about news. In my view there's nothing trivial about it," he argues.

The Daily Mirror is in need of a circulation boost. Despite dropping its cover price to 20p, The Sun responded with a similar price, and 10p cover price in the South East. October's ABC figures show the Daily Mirror 1.5 million copies behind The Sun on 2.1 million.

However short term the effects of big stories are on circulation, the Daily Mirror's competitors have also benefited recently. For instance, The Sun sold an extra 150,000 copies on the day Ulrika Jonsson's alleged attacker was named.

The effect on advertising volumes is less immediate because media agencies can't be supplied with verified figures showing a circulation increase until the monthly ABCs are calculated.

There might be a limited boost but, more importantly, such stories keep the paper high on the agenda for advertisers. The good news for the Daily Mirror at the start of this week was that the story was set to run and run with Burrell defending himself from allegations in the News of the World. Looks like Morgan landed himself a bargain.


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