The company, whose portfolio includes the Express Newspapers group and Channel 5, has brought in Mimi Turner for the role.
Turner joins Northern & Shell from entertainment magazine The Hollywood Reporter, where she has been the European television editor for nine years.
In this new position she will report to the company board and oversee internal and external comms across the group’s publishing, broadcasting, printing and philanthropic operations.
Desmond said: 'We have expanded the base of our business significantly and felt that the time was right to bring someone in to build this important role.’
In recent months, Northern & Shell have launched The Health Lottery and invested £100m in a new Luton-based printing plant.
Desmond added: ‘Mimi has genuine insight into our businesses and a great track record. She is a strategic and creative thinker and an exciting addition to the management team.'
The Northern & Shell group will continue to work as before with The Outside Organisation, along with College Hill.
Turner will be starting on 12 March. She said: ‘The new role of group comms director will enable me to pull together many different strands in this fast growing media business and I look forward to joining the team.'
In a recent appearance at the Leveson inquiry, group founder Desmond launched a scathing attack on the Press Complaints Commission from which he had withdrawn the Express titles, calling it 'useless'.