McCapra will take up the CIPR chief executive post on 4 November, taking over from Wilson, who announced in February she would step down in September.
McCapra has been chief executive of the Landscape Institute, which is the Royal Chartered institute for landscape architecture, since 2008.
His previous posts include head of policy communications and membership at the Royal Society for Public Health and chief executive of the Institute of Conservation.
At the start of his career, he studied Arabic at Cambridge and lectured in Tunisia and Turkey before returning to the UK to work in various management posts in higher education and the third sector.
McCapra said: ‘All professions, and the bodies which represent them, are under incredible pressure in the modern world and I will be bringing to the CIPR my experience of how others are rising to these challenges.
‘I want to ensure that the PR profession is well equipped to respond positively to changes in technology, client expectations and regulation.
‘I also want to ensure that it is highly regarded both by its clients and by society more widely. I look forward to working with the Board and Council, and to meeting members around the country in the coming months, as well as taking part in exciting events such as the Public Relations Show.’
The CIPR recruited him through an open process by a panel including CIPR president Sue Wolstenholme, president-elect Stephen Waddington and other members of the CIPR Executive Board.
Wolstenholme said: ‘Alastair has considerable experience of leading professional bodies and can take us to the next level of our development and maybe even further.’
‘I know that the Board would like to take this opportunity to thank Jane for her leadership over the past three years and to wish her the very best for the future.’
Wilson, who will remain in her role until McCapra takes over in November, arrived at the CIPR in September 2010 replacing Colin Farrington.
She previously spent five years at Global Radio as director of comms and joined the CIPR after a six-month stint as comms director for online ticket agency Seatwave.