Over the last month there have been a flurry of stories denouncing influencers as everything from amoral, ineffective, overrated, and even responsible for one company’s disastrous IPO’s.

Headlines like ‘The Dishonest and Wasteful Practice of Influencer Marketing’ paint influences with a broad brush as money grubbing and eager to take any brand deal coming their way and sell out their audiences along the way.

That’s just not true and doesn’t accurately reflect the majority of my experiences in nearly 15 years of influencer marketing.

Influencers say no and fight for work they believe in.

I personally have experienced influencers walk away from 6 figure brand deals because they didn’t feel it was a good fit, or they felt like they couldn’t do the campaign justice. Oftentimes they genuinely loved the brand, but simply couldn’t take on the workload or couldn’t quite wrap their head around a way to bring a campaign to life.

When working on branded content with influencers, they often say no to client requests and push back in order to fight for what they feel is going to work best. That’s their job. It can be frustrating, but ultimately, I’m incredibly grateful that they do it.

Ultimately, saying no to most opportunities makes sense for influencers.

The connection influencers have to their audience is the lifeblood of their business.

As tempting as it may be to take a nice paycheck in the short term, if it is going to compromise the relationship they have with their audience (real or perceived) they should say no. Brands come and go, but the audience is the renewable resource that keeps their business alive – brand deals or no brand deals.

This isn’t some deep insight, and I’m not saying that all influencers are saints. I have had some incredibly difficult experiences working with influencers. However, by and large, I’ve found my experiences in working with influencers to be extremely rewarding, informative, and effective for the brands.

The reality of influencer marketing is more complex than the knee jerk reaction being made by many marketers writing op-eds at the moment.

Some influencers are more talented or honest or hard working than others, and in many ways influencers have got more in common than a typical creative director than anyone else.

As a general rule they care about their reputation. They want to do work they’re proud of. They want to make work that is fulfilling and recognized by their peers.

For both groups this oftentimes means forgoing short term gains and carefully curating the opportunities they take on in order to create a career with longevity. For Creative Directors you see this reflected in the way many choose to work for more creative shops vs behemoths that pay well but churn out crap. Just like influencers, Creative Directors have a responsibility to push back on clients if that’s what it takes to get great work made.

Generally speaking, neither influencers nor creative directors wants to sell out their credibility for a quick pay day.

As frustrating as the creative process can be, I’d much rather have someone be honest with me about what they believe will work best, and is right than take the money and run.

Objectively, I think we can all appreciate the integrity it takes to say no and push back in the face of overwhelming pressure or walk away from the carrot in the form of a nice payday being waved in front of our face.