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Can Carly Fiorina go all the way?

Since Carly Fiorina's outstanding performance during the GOP "Happy Hour" debate on Fox News, the candidate has been on a roll.

The latest New Hampshire poll by Public Policy Polling shows voters in the Granite State like what they are hearing from her because she is now in third place with 10 percent of the GOP vote, only a percentage point behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich.



Carly Fiorina campaigning in Iowa last June.
Getty Images
Carly Fiorina campaigning in Iowa last June.

Her delivery in that first debate (which preceded the Aug. 6 prime time debate featuring the top 10 Republican hopefuls) was so impressive that Fox News replayed her responses during the prime-time debate. As a former television-news producer who has covered debates, I can tell you that clip insertion didn't happen by chance. It wasn't put there to give the only woman on stage equal airtime. Producers chose those sound bites from Fiorina because they were most impressed with her responses.

Unlike most of the other candidates, Fiorina actually answers questions with direct answers, including those simple "yes or no" questions. She doesn't dance around the tough questions or sound like a lawyer. She responds like a candidate with a plan of action.

Read MoreWhat Trump and Bush did wrong in the debate

With this current momentum, Fiorina could realistically be in second place in New Hampshire by the time the CNN debate takes place on Sept. 16, but that doesn't mean she will get a podium at the prime-time debate. If CNN decides she doesn't poll high enough leading up to the debate, much of America will once again miss out on learning more about her.

But here is what is in her control and how she can use this three-point media strategy to raise her profile where it matters most — in the battleground, swing states.

Read MoreWhat Bernie Sanders needs to do to beat Hillary

1. Focus on the more moderate or left-leaning media outlets

It sounds illogical to ignore Fox News, since it's the primary news source for most conservative voters, but Fiorina – and the other candidates, minus Donald Trump – blend into the background when they are stacked against each other on that network.

But everything changes with MSNBC, Bloomberg or other moderate news organizations, where she becomes a fresh voice with a new perspective. In addition, it's practically an endorsement when anchors comment on how refreshing it is to hear a presidential candidate answer the questions, which happened twice this week. On Sunday's "Meet the Press" on NBC and on Wednesday's "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, the panelists and anchors all spoke in positive terms about Fiorina's media approach.

Read MoreHow Hillary Clinton can win back public trust

Yes, the GOP voter needs to be persuaded first that Fiorina has a chance at the nomination. But Fiorina is not competing with Ted Cruz for the far right. She's going after the same moderate base that appeals to Jeb Bush. So why not focus on news outlets where many of those voters are watching?

2. Spend more time with the local media

Every presidential candidate wants to get on the national news, but Fiorina can showcase her style better by going straight to the local media in the early primary states. Her PR team should be giving sit-down interviews with the main anchors and political reporters in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, so voters in those states can hear more about her policy and vision for this country. Radio should also be included in that media strategy.

Many advertising and media studies show the majority of Americans get the majority of their news from the local newscast. It will also help Fiorina to better connect with the community.

Promote national news interviews online

All the presidential candidates post their news interviews online. That's not original, nor is it a media strategy. But I haven't seen any of the candidates do a compare-and-contrast video with their interviews. Imagine a 2-minute video where you see this exchange, comparing Fiorina versus one of her opponents.

Take Scott Walker's interview with NBC's Kasie Hunt:

  • KASIE HUNT: Do you think that birthright citizenship should be ended?
  • SCOTT WALKER: Well, like I said, Harry Reid said it's not right for this country — I think that's something we should, yeah, absolutely, going forward-
  • HUNT: We should end birthright citizenship?
  • WALKER: Yeah, to me it's about enforcing the laws in this country. And I've been very clear, I think you enforce the laws, and I think it's important to send a message that we're going to enforce the laws, no matter how people come here we're going to enforce the laws in this country.

And compare it with Carly Fiorina's exchange with Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press":

  • CHUCK TODD: I know you don't want to talk more about Donald Trump, but the issue of birthright citizenship came up. Can you explain where you are on this issue of birthright citizenship?
  • CARLY FIORINA: Yeah, I don't agree that we should be trying to amend the constitution.
  • TODD: You would not amend it? This is not a priority?
  • FIORINA: I would not amend it.

Viewers will be able to watch these videos and see how Fiorina contrasts with the other candidates.

So, does she have a shot at winning the nomination? There are a couple of things working against her: Historically, the nomination comes after the second run for president, though President Obama broke those rules in 2008. And, the GOP has also historically gone with the establishment candidate. If she can't get on the next prime time debate, her ability to become the GOP nominee becomes even more challenging.

But, she is clawing ahead. And, even if she doesn't get the nomination, she will make a strong No. 2.

Commentary by Mark Macias, head of Macias PR, a global public-relations firm, that has run media and branding campaigns for politicians, tech start-ups, financial firms, nonprofits and companies. He's also author of the book, "Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media." Follow him on Twitter @markmacias.