Tracy De Groose leaves as Newsworks chair while Jo Allan becomes MD

A third leadership change in four years at trade body for news brands.

Newsworks: De Groose and Allan
Newsworks: De Groose and Allan

Tracy De Groose is to step down as executive chair of Newsworks in September after nearly two years in the role.

Jo Allan, interim managing director of the organisation since last year, will become managing director on a permanent basis and take on De Groose’s responsibilities.

It is the third time that there has been a change of leader at the top of the marketing trade body for UK news brands in the past four years – a tumultuous time for publishers that has worsened because of the coronavirus slump. National newspaper ad revenues fell 46% in the second quarter, according to the latest Warc/Advertising Association expenditure report.

De Groose, a former chief executive of Dentsu Aegis Network UK and Ireland, who also worked at independent agency Naked Communications and in marketing positions for Stella Artois, said she wanted to focus on a portfolio of roles.

She set up her own business, Brilliant Misfits, at the start of July, “with a focus on businesses trying to do good in the world”.

De Groose said Newsworks has repositioned itself during her time in charge as it has moved its focus “from advertising effectiveness to funding quality journalism” and has played an important role in persuading publishers – which have traditionally been fierce rivals – to collaborate better.

She pointed to the trade body’s recent work with OmniGov to get the UK government to run coronavirus messaging across all major national and regional news brands in a sustained effort to support the sector and its work on “Back, not block” to persuade advertisers to stop keyword blocking – a practice that meant ads weren’t appearing on quality news sites.

“This industry has had to suffer [in recent years] because it has been built by technology companies, not content creators,” she pointed out. 

De Groose went on: “I have loved every minute of my time working with so many bright, talented and enthusiastic colleagues from across all publishers, and of course my own team.

"However, I feel now is the right time to hand over to a new industry leader who can carry on the transformation of this amazing sector and I wish Jo and the senior team all the best in taking the organisation to new heights.”

Allan, who has previously worked at Dentsu Aegis, Carat and InBev, said: “While the industry is experiencing enormous challenges due to the pandemic, the audience it attracts continues to grow and there are enormous opportunities to be had from working together to promote the sector.” 

Jim Mullen, chief executive of Reach and deputy chair of the News Media Association, said: “On behalf of the industry, I would like to thank Tracy for her energy, drive and vision in driving greater collaboration and campaigning across our industry.

"We wish Tracy well for the future. I am pleased that Jo Allan has agreed to step up to lead the organisation moving forward.”

A senior news publishing source said Newsworks' members remain committed to the trade body and its funding despite the ad downturn.

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