Dominic Williams, the head of trading at Carat Direct, takes on the role immediately. He will control more than £150 million in UK press buying, the third-largest budget after that of MediaCom and ZenithOptimedia.
The agency has not had a head of press since the departure of Tim Kirkman in July 2003. He left after Carat restructured its media department and integrated its press and broadcast functions.
Mark Jarvis, the head of broadcast at Carat, has been caretaking the 120-strong department and Williams will initially report to him.
Williams said: "It's time to have a head of press again - the markets have recognised it, clients have recognised it and we've recognised it.
My reputation has been as a hard-nosed negotiator, but now I'm looking forward to working with the team to build relationships with media owners."
The announcement is the first major appointment made by Neil Jones, Carat's newly appointed managing director. Jones said: "It's great to be able to promote from within and Dominic is an outstanding talent who has a real passion for the press medium."
Williams has worked at Carat for the past eight years. Most recently, he was a founder associate director of Carat Direct Communications, which launched in April 2003. While in this position, he was in charge of teams that won accounts including Legal & General and First Alternative.
He also spent six years working as a press buyer at Carat, specialising in direct response clients.